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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Diversity and Phylogenetic Analyses of Bacterial Symbionts in Three Whitefly Species from Southeast Europe

Department of Applied Sciences, Institute for Adriatic Crops, Put Duilova 11, Split 21000, Croatia
Department of Entomology, Agricultural Research Organization, Institute of Plant Protection, the Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME), Bioresources Project Group, Winchesterstrasse 2, 35394 Giessen, Germany
Faculty of Science, University of Split, Rudera Boskovica 33, Split 21000, Croatia
Laboratory for Aquaculture, Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Setaliste Ivana Mestrovica 62, Split 21000, Croatia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These two authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editors: Kenneth Wilson, Fleur Ponton and Sheena Cotter
Insects 2017, 8(4), 113;
Received: 7 August 2017 / Revised: 17 September 2017 / Accepted: 15 October 2017 / Published: 20 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Parasite-Insect Interactions)
Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius), Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood), and Siphoninus phillyreae (Haliday) are whitefly species that harm agricultural crops in many regions of the world. These insects live in close association with bacterial symbionts that affect host fitness and adaptation to the environment. In the current study, we surveyed the infection of whitefly populations in Southeast Europe by various bacterial symbionts and performed phylogenetic analyses on the different symbionts detected. Arsenophonus and Hamiltonella were the most prevalent symbionts in all three whitefly species. Rickettsia was found to infect mainly B. tabaci, while Wolbachia mainly infected both B. tabaci and S. phillyreae. Furthermore, Cardinium was rarely found in the investigated whitefly populations, while Fritschea was never found in any of the whitefly species tested. Phylogenetic analyses revealed a diversity of several symbionts (e.g., Hamiltonella, Arsenophonus, Rickettsia), which appeared in several clades. Reproductively isolated B. tabaci and T. vaporariorum shared the same (or highly similar) Hamiltonella and Arsenophonus, while these symbionts were distinctive in S. phillyreae. Interestingly, Arsenophonus from S. phillyreae did not cluster with any of the reported sequences, which could indicate the presence of Arsenophonus, not previously associated with whiteflies. In this study, symbionts (Wolbachia, Rickettsia, and Cardinium) known to infect a wide range of insects each clustered in the same clades independently of the whitefly species. These results indicate horizontal transmission of bacterial symbionts between reproductively isolated whitefly species, a mechanism that can establish new infections that did not previously exist in whiteflies. View Full-Text
Keywords: bacterial symbionts; phylogenetic analyses; mtCOI; diversity; whiteflies bacterial symbionts; phylogenetic analyses; mtCOI; diversity; whiteflies
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Skaljac, M.; Kanakala, S.; Zanic, K.; Puizina, J.; Pleic, I.L.; Ghanim, M. Diversity and Phylogenetic Analyses of Bacterial Symbionts in Three Whitefly Species from Southeast Europe. Insects 2017, 8, 113.

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