Mealybugs (Coccoidea: Pseudococcidae) are sap-sucking plant parasites that harbor bacterial endosymbionts within specialized organs. Previous studies have identified two subfamilies, Pseudococcinae and Phenacoccinae, within mealybugs and determined the primary endosymbionts (P-endosymbionts) of the Pseudococcinae to be Betaproteobacteria ("Candidatus Tremblaya princeps") containing Gammaproteobacteria secondary symbionts. Here, the P-endosymbionts of phenacoccine mealybugs are characterized based on 16S rRNA from the bacteria of 20 species of phenacoccine mealybugs and four outgroup Puto species (Coccoidea: Putoidae) and aligned to more than 100 published 16S rRNA sequences from symbiotic and free-living bacteria. Phylogenetic analyses recovered three separate lineages of bacteria from the Phenacoccinae, and these are considered to be the P-endosymbionts of their respective mealybug hosts, with those from (i) the mealybug genus Rastrococcus belonging to the Bacteroidetes, (ii) the subterranean mealybugs, tribe Rhizoecini, also within Bacteroidetes, in a clade sister to cockroach endosymbionts (Blattabacterium), and (iii) the remaining Phenacoccinae within the Betaproteobacteria, forming a well-supported sister group to "Candidatus Tremblaya princeps." Names are proposed for two strongly supported lineages: "Candidatus Brownia rhizoecola" for P-endosymbionts of Rhizoecini and "Candidatus Tremblaya phenacola" for P-endosymbionts of Phenacoccinae excluding Rastrococcus and Rhizoecini. Rates of nucleotide substitution among lineages of Tremblaya were inferred to be significantly faster than those of free-living Betaproteobacteria. Analyses also recovered a clade of Gammaproteobacteria, sister to the P-endosymbiont lineage of aphids ("Candidatus Buchnera aphidicola"), containing the endosymbionts of Putoidae, the secondary endosymbionts of pseudococcine mealybugs, and the endosymbionts of several other insect groups.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology