Genome sequencing and comparative analysis of Wolbachia strain wAlbA reveals Wolbachia-associated plasmids are common

Martinez, J. , Ant, T. H., Murdochy, S. M., Tong, L., da Silva Filipe, A. and Sinkins, S. P. (2022) Genome sequencing and comparative analysis of Wolbachia strain wAlbA reveals Wolbachia-associated plasmids are common. PLoS Genetics, 18(9), e1010406. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1010406) (PMID:36121852) (PMCID:PMC9560607)

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Wolbachia are widespread maternally-transmitted bacteria of arthropods that often spread by manipulating their host’s reproduction through cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). Their invasive potential is currently being harnessed in field trials aiming to control mosquito-borne diseases. Wolbachia genomes commonly harbour prophage regions encoding the cif genes which confer their ability to induce CI. Recently, a plasmid-like element was discovered in wPip, a Wolbachia strain infecting Culex mosquitoes; however, it is unclear how common such extra-chromosomal elements are in Wolbachia. Here we sequenced the complete genome of wAlbA, a strain of the symbiont found in Aedes albopictus, after eliminating the co-infecting and higher density wAlbB strain that previously made sequencing of wAlbA challenging. We show that wAlbA is associated with two new plasmids and identified additional Wolbachia plasmids and related chromosomal islands in over 20% of publicly available Wolbachia genome datasets. These plasmids encode a variety of accessory genes, including several phage-like DNA packaging genes as well as genes potentially contributing to host-symbiont interactions. In particular, we recovered divergent homologues of the cif genes in both Wolbachia- and Rickettsia-associated plasmids. Our results indicate that plasmids are common in Wolbachia and raise fundamental questions around their role in symbiosis. In addition, our comparative analysis provides useful information for the future development of genetic tools to manipulate and study Wolbachia symbionts.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Murdochy, Mr Shivan and Martinez, Dr Julien and Sinkins, Professor Steven and Tong, Dr Lily and Ant, Dr Thomas and Da Silva Filipe, Dr Ana
Creator Roles:
Martinez, J.Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Ant, T. H.Investigation, Methodology, Writing – review and editing
Murdochy, S. M.Investigation
Tong, L.Investigation
da Silva Filipe, A.Investigation
Sinkins, S. P.Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Project administration, Writing – original draft
Authors: Martinez, J., Ant, T. H., Murdochy, S. M., Tong, L., da Silva Filipe, A., and Sinkins, S. P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
Journal Name:PLoS Genetics
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1553-7404
Published Online:19 September 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Martinez et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS Genetics 18(9): e1010406
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5525/gla.researchdata.1342

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
173477Wolbachia-mediated arbovirus inhibition in mosquitoesSteven SinkinsWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)202888/Z/16/ZIII-MRC-GU Centre for Virus Research
174018Wolbachia-based control of virus transmission by the mosquito Aedes albopictusSteven SinkinsWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)108508/A/15/ZIII-MRC-GU Centre for Virus Research