Many animals and plants have symbiotic relationships with beneficial bacteria. Experimentally tractable models are necessary to understand the processes involved in the selective transmission of symbiotic bacteria. One such model is the transmission of the insect-pathogenic bacterial symbionts Photorhabdus spp. by Heterorhabditis bactenophora infective juvenile (IJ)-stage nematodes. By observing egg-laying behavior and IJ development, it was determined that IJs develop exclusively via intrauterine hatching and matricide (i.e., endotokia matricida). By transiently exposing nematodes to fluorescently labeled symbionts, it was determined that symbionts infect the maternal intestine as a biofilm and then invade and breach the rectal gland epithelium, becoming available to the IJ offspring developing in the pseudocoelom. Cell- and stage-specific infection occurs again in the pre-IJ pharyngeal intestinal valve cells, which helps symbionts to persist as IJs develop and move to a new host. Synchronous with nematode development are changes in symbiont and host behavior (e.g., adherence versus invasion). Thus, Photorhabdus symbionts are maternally transmitted by an elaborate infectious process involving multiple selective steps in order to achieve symbiont-specific transmission.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology