Tick-bacteria mutualism depends on B vitamin synthesis pathways

Duron Olivier, Morel Olivier, Noel Valérie, Buysse Marie, Binetruy Florian, Lancelot Renaud, Loire Etienne, Ménard Claudine, Bouchez Olivier, Vavre Fabrice, Vial Laurence. 2018. Tick-bacteria mutualism depends on B vitamin synthesis pathways. Current Biology, 28 (12):e5 : 1896-1902.e5.

Journal article ; Article de recherche ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact
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Quartile : Outlier, Sujet : BIOCHEMISTRY & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY / Quartile : Q1, Sujet : CELL BIOLOGY

Liste HCERES des revues (en SHS) : oui

Thème(s) HCERES des revues (en SHS) : Anthropologie-Ethnologie; Psychologie-éthologie-ergonomie

Abstract : Mutualistic interactions with microbes have facilitated the radiation of major eukaryotic lineages [1, 2]. Microbes can notably provide biochemical abilities, allowing eukaryotes to adapt to novel habitats or to specialize on particular feeding niches [2, 3, 4]. To investigate the importance of mutualisms for the exclusive blood feeding habits of ticks, we focused on a bacterial genus of medical interest, Francisella, which is known to include both virulent intracellular pathogens of vertebrates [5, 6] and maternally inherited symbionts of ticks [7, 8, 9]. Through a series of physiological experiments, we identified a Francisella type, F-Om, as an obligate nutritional mutualist in the life cycle of the African soft tick Ornithodoros moubata. Francisella F-Om mutualism synthesizes B vitamins that are deficient in the blood meal of ticks. Indeed, experimental elimination of Francisella F-Om resulted in alteration of tick life history traits and physical abnormalities, deficiencies which were fully restored with an oral supplement of B vitamins. We also show that Francisella F-Om is maternally transmitted to all maturing tick oocytes, suggesting that this heritable symbiont is an essential adaptive element in the life cycle of O. moubata. The Francisella F-Om genome further revealed a recent origin from a Francisella pathogenic life style, as observed in other Francisella symbionts [6, 7, 10]. Though half of its protein-coding sequences are now pseudogenized or lost, Francisella F-Om has kept several B vitamin synthesis pathways intact, confirming the importance of these genes in evolution of its nutritional mutualism with ticks.

Mots-clés libres : Ticks, Genomics, Symbiosis

Classification Agris : L73 - Animal diseases
000 - Other themes
L10 - Animal genetics and breeding
L50 - Animal physiology and biochemistry

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 4 (2014-2018) - Santé des animaux et des plantes

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Duron Olivier, CNRS (FRA) - auteur correspondant
  • Morel Olivier, CNRS (FRA)
  • Noel Valérie, IRD (FRA)
  • Buysse Marie, CNRS (FRA)
  • Binetruy Florian, CNRS (FRA)
  • Lancelot Renaud, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR ASTRE (FRA)
  • Loire Etienne, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR ASTRE (FRA)
  • Ménard Claudine, IBMM (FRA)
  • Bouchez Olivier, INRA (FRA)
  • Vavre Fabrice, UCLB (FRA)
  • Vial Laurence, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR ASTRE (FRA)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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