Endosymbiont metacommunities, mtDNA diversity and the evolution of the Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) species complex

Gwénaelle Gueguen, Fabrice Vavre, Olivier Gnankine, Michel Peterschmitt, Delphine Charif, Elad Chiel, Yuval Gottlieb, Murad Ghanim, Einat Zchori-Fein, Frédéric Fleury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bemisia tabaci, an invasive pest that causes crop damage worldwide, is a highly differentiated species complex, divided into biotypes that have mainly been defined based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Although endosymbionts can potentially induce population differentiation, specialization and indirect selection on mtDNA, studies have largely ignored these influential passengers in B. tabaci, despite as many as seven bacterial endosymbionts have been identified. Here, we investigate the composition of the whole bacterial community in worldwide populations of B. tabaci, together with host genetic differentiation, focusing on the invasive B and Q biotypes. Among 653 individuals studied, more than 95% of them harbour at least one secondary endosymbiont, and multiple infections are very common. In addition, sequence analyses reveal a very high diversity of facultative endosymbionts in B. tabaci, with some bacterial genus being represented by more than one strain. In the B and Q biotypes, nine different strains of bacteria have been identified. The mtDNA-based phylogeny of B. tabaci also reveals a very high nucleotide diversity that partitions the two ITS clades (B and Q) into six CO1 genetic groups. Each genetic group is in linkage disequilibrium with a specific combination of endosymbionts. All together, our results demonstrate the rapid dynamics of the bacterial endosymbiont-host associations at a small evolutionary scale, questioning the role of endosymbiotic communities in the evolution of the Bemisia tabaci species complex and strengthening the need to develop a metacommunity theory of inherited endosymbionts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4365-4376
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Arsenophonus
  • Hamiltonella
  • Rickettsia
  • Wolbachia
  • community genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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