Whiteflies (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) are sap-feeding global agricultural pests. These piercing-sucking insects have coevolved with intracellular endosymbiotic bacteria that help to supplement their nutrient-poor plant sap diets with essential amino acids and carotenoids. These obligate, primary endosymbionts have been incorporated into specialized organs called bacteriomes where they sometimes coexist with facultative, secondary endosymbionts. All whitefly species harbor the primary endosymbiont Candidatus
Portiera aleyrodidarum and have a variable number of secondary endosymbionts. The secondary endosymbiont complement harbored by the cryptic whitefly species Bemisia tabaci
is particularly complex with various assemblages of seven different genera identified to date. In this review, we discuss whitefly associated primary and secondary endosymbionts. We focus on those associated with the notorious B. tabaci
species complex with emphasis on their biological characteristics and diversity. We also discuss their interactions with phytopathogenic begomoviruses (family Geminiviridae
), which are transmitted exclusively by B. tabaci
in a persistent-circulative manner. Unraveling the complex interactions of these endosymbionts with their insect hosts and plant viruses could lead to advancements in whitefly and whitefly transmitted virus management.
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