PeerJ | 2019
Conservation of transcriptional elements in the obligate symbiont of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci
Background Bacterial symbiosis is widespread in arthropods, especially in insects. Some of the symbionts undergo a long-term co-evolution with the host, resulting in massive genome decay. One particular consequence of genome decay is thought to be the elimination of transcriptional elements within both the coding region and intergenic sequences. In the whitefly Bemisia tabaci species complex, the obligate symbiont Candidatus Portiera aleyrodidarum is of vital importance in nutrient provision, and yet little is known about the regulatory capacities of it. Methods Portiera genomes of two whitefly species in China were sequenced and assembled. Gene content of these two Portiera genomes was predicted, and then subjected to Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analysis. Together with two other Portiera genomes from whitefly species available previously, four Portiera genomes were utilized to investigate regulatory capacities of Portiera, focusing on transcriptional elements, including genes related with transcription and functional elements within the intergenic spacers. Results Comparative analyses of the four Portiera genomes of whitefly B. tabaci indicate that the obligate symbionts Portiera is similar in different species of whiteflies, in terms of general genome features and possible functions in the biosynthesis of essential amino acids. The screening of transcriptional factors suggests compromised ability of Portiera to regulate the essential amino acid biosynthesis pathways. Meanwhile, thermal tolerance ability of Portiera is indicated with the detection of a σ32 factor, as well as two predicted σ32 binding sites. Within intergenic spacers, functional elements are predicted, including 37 Shine-Dalgarno sequences and 34 putative small RNAs.