Document Detail

Symbiotic bacteria enable insect to use a nutritionally inadequate diet.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19129128     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Animals generally require a dietary supply of various nutrients (vitamins, essential amino acids, etc.) because their biosynthetic capabilities are limited. The capacity of aphids to use plant phloem sap, with low essential amino acid content, has been attributed to their symbiotic bacteria, Buchnera aphidicola, which can synthesize these nutrients; but this has not been demonstrated empirically. We demonstrate here that phloem sap obtained from the severed stylets of pea aphids Acyrthosiphon pisum feeding on Vicia faba plants generally provided inadequate amounts of at least one essential amino acid to support aphid growth. Complementary analyses using aphids reared on chemically defined diets with each amino acid individually omitted revealed that the capacity of the symbiotic bacterium B. aphidicola to synthesize essential amino acids exceeded the dietary deficit of all phloem amino acids except methionine. It is proposed that this shortfall of methionine was met by aphid usage of the non-protein amino acid 5-methylmethionine in the phloem sap. This study provides the first quantitative demonstration that bacterial symbiosis can meet the nutritional demand of plant-reared aphids. It shows how symbiosis with micro-organisms has enabled this group of animals to escape from the constraint of requiring a balanced dietary supply of amino acids.
E Akman Gündüz; A E Douglas
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  276     ISSN:  0962-8452     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2009 Mar 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-01-26     Completed Date:  2009-04-07     Revised Date:  2010-09-22    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  987-91     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Biology, University of York, York YO10 5YW, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Aphids / microbiology*
Buchnera / physiology*
Feeding Behavior
Symbiosis / physiology*
Vicia faba
Grant Support
//Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

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