Coevolution in the termite-protist symbiosis

Microbiology Seminar Series

  • Datum: 19.09.2022
  • Uhrzeit: 16:00
  • Vortragende(r): Gillian Gile (Associate Professor)
  • Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, Tempe, USA
  • Ort: Hybrid
  • Raum: Lecture hall
  • Gastgeber: Prof. Dr. Andreas Brune
  • Kontakt:

The termite-protist symbiosis is mutually obligate and vertically inherited. Termites will starve to death despite continued feeding if cleared of their hindgut protists. The protists have lost their ability to persist in the environment and are now exclusively transmitted to new host individuals by proctodeal trophallaxis (anal feeding). Because of this unique mode of vertical inheritance, several lineages of protists have diversified exclusively within the termite gut environment, co-evolving with their hosts, for over 150 million years. Such long-term, strict vertical inheritance might be expected to result in congruent host and symbiont phylogenies, and there is one protist lineage whose phylogeny closely matches that of its host lineage. However, overall the coevolutionary patterns are more complex. Cophylogenetic signal has been blurred by lineage-specific loss of symbionts, by transfer of symbionts between distantly related hosts, and by independent diversification of symbionts within a host lineage. In this talk I will introduce their morphological diversity, recent advances in their systematics, and their complex cophylogenetic history with termites.

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