Microbial Ecology

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 242–251 | Cite as

Molecular Evidence for Polyphyletic Origin of the Primary Symbionts of Sucking Lice (Phthiraptera, Anoplura)



Based on 16S rDNA analyses, the primary symbionts of sucking lice were found to form a polyphyletic assemblage of several distant lineages that have arisen several times within Enterobacteriaceae and at least once within Legionellaceae. Another independent lineage of endosymbiotic enterobacteria inhabits a sister group of the sucking lice, Rhynchophthirina. The inspection of 16S rDNA supports the symbiotic nature of the investigated bacteria; they display a typical trait of degenerative processes, an increased AT content (Adenine–Thymine content) in comparison with free-living bacteria. The calculation of divergence time between the closest anopluran and rhynchophthirine symbionts further support their independent origin. The results shown here, together with evidence from other groups, indicate that the significance of primary symbionts for blood-feeding insects should be reconsidered.


Symbiotic Bacterium Nonsynonymous Substitution Polyphyletic Origin Chewing Louse Secondary Symbiont 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to Břetislav Koudela, Kathy Stafford, and Ján Krištofík for providing the lice samples, and to anonymous reviewers for important comments. This work was supported by Grants 206/04/0520 (Grant Agency of the Czech Republic) and MSM 60076605801 (Ministry of Education, Czech Republic).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Biological SciencesČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of Parasitology AS CRČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic

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