Multiple origins of interdependent endosymbiotic complexes in a genus of cicadas Academic Article uri icon


  • Bacterial endosymbionts that provide nutrients to hosts often have genomes that are extremely stable in structure and gene content. In contrast, the genome of the endosymbiont Hodgkinia cicadicola has fractured into multiple distinct lineages in some species of the cicada genus Tettigades. To better understand the frequency, timing, and outcomes of Hodgkinia lineage splitting throughout this cicada genus, we sampled cicadas over three field seasons in Chile and performed genomics and microscopy on representative samples. We found that a single ancestral Hodgkinia lineage has split at least six independent times in Tettigades over the last 4 million years, resulting in complexes of between two and six distinct Hodgkinia lineages per host. Individual genomes in these symbiotic complexes differ dramatically in relative abundance, genome size, organization, and gene content. Each Hodgkinia lineage retains a small set of core genes involved in genetic information processing, but the high level of gene loss experienced by all genomes suggests that extensive sharing of gene products among symbiont cells must occur. In total, Hodgkinia complexes that consist of multiple lineages encode nearly complete sets of genes present on the ancestral single lineage and presumably perform the same functions as symbionts that have not undergone splitting. However, differences in the timing of the splits, along with dissimilar gene loss patterns on the resulting genomes, have led to very different outcomes of lineage splitting in extant cicadas.


  • Łukasik, Piotr
  • Nazario, Katherine
  • Van Leuven, James T
  • Campbell, Matthew A
  • Meyer, Mariah
  • Michalik, Anna
  • Pessacq, Pablo
  • Simon, Chris
  • Veloso, Claudio
  • McCutcheon, John P

publication date

  • 2018