A Tale of Three Species: Adaptation of Sodalis glossinidius to Tsetse Biology, Wigglesworthia Metabolism, and Host Diet.

Affiliation

Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom [Email] [Email]

Abstract

The tsetse fly is the insect vector for the Trypanosoma brucei parasite, the causative agent of human African trypanosomiasis. The colonization and spread of the trypanosome correlate positively with the presence of a secondary symbiotic bacterium, Sodalis glossinidius The metabolic requirements and interactions of the bacterium with its host are poorly understood, and herein we describe a metabolic model of S. glossinidius metabolism. The model enabled the design and experimental verification of a defined medium that supports S. glossinidius growth ex vivo This has been used subsequently to analyze in vitro aspects of S. glossinidius metabolism, revealing multiple unique adaptations of the symbiont to its environment. Continued dependence on a sugar, and the importance of the chitin monomer N-acetyl-d-glucosamine as a carbon and energy source, suggests adaptation to host-derived molecules. Adaptation to the amino acid-rich blood diet is revealed by a strong dependence on l-glutamate as a source of carbon and nitrogen and by the ability to rescue a predicted l-arginine auxotrophy. Finally, the selective loss of thiamine biosynthesis, a vitamin provided to the host by the primary symbiont Wigglesworthia glossinidia, reveals an intersymbiont dependence. The reductive evolution of S. glossinidius to exploit environmentally derived metabolites has resulted in multiple weaknesses in the metabolic network. These weaknesses may become targets for reagents that inhibit S. glossinidius growth and aid the reduction of trypanosomal transmission.IMPORTANCE Human African trypanosomiasis is caused by the Trypanosoma brucei parasite. The tsetse fly vector is of interest for its potential to prevent disease spread, as it is essential for T. brucei life cycle progression and transmission. The tsetse's mutualistic endosymbiont Sodalis glossinidius has a link to trypanosome establishment, providing a disease control target. Here, we describe a new, experimentally verified model of S. glossinidius metabolism. This model has enabled the development of a defined growth medium that was used successfully to test aspects of S. glossinidius metabolism. We present S. glossinidius as uniquely adapted to life in the tsetse, through its reliance on the blood diet and host-derived sugars. Additionally, S. glossinidius has adapted to the tsetse's obligate symbiont Wigglesworthia glossinidia by scavenging a vitamin it produces for the insect. This work highlights the use of metabolic modeling to design defined growth media for symbiotic bacteria and may provide novel inhibitory targets to block trypanosome transmission.

Keywords

metabolism,microbiome,physiology,symbiosis,vector biology,

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