Aphids are known to live in symbiosis with specific bacteria called endosymbionts that have positive or negative impacts on their hosts. In this study, six banana aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa Coquerel) strains from various geographical origins (Gabon, Madagascar, and Burundi) were screened to determine their symbiotic content, using complementary genomic (16S rDNA sequencing and specific polymerase chain reaction) and proteomic (two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis coupled with protein identification by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry) approaches. Despite the geographical heterogeneity, the combined methods allowed us to identify the same two symbionts in the six aphids strains tested: Buchnera aphidicola and Wolbachia. Although B. aphidicola is found in almost all aphid species, the systematic presence of Wolbachia in banana aphids is particularly interesting, as this bacterium usually has a low prevalence in aphid species. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the Wolbachia sp. strain found in P. nigronervosa was very similar to the strain present in aphids of the genus Cinara, known to have developed a strong and long-term symbiotic association with Wolbachia. The high level of asexual reproduction in P. nigronervosa could be linked to the presence of Wolbachia, but its prevalence also suggests that this symbiotic bacterium could play a more essential role in its aphid host.
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Vol. 43 • No. 1