Population Dynamics and Growth Rates of Endosymbionts During Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera, Liviidae) Ontogeny
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The infection density of symbionts is among the major parameters to understand their biological effects in host-endosymbionts interactions. Diaphorina citri harbors two bacteriome-associated bacterial endosymbionts (Candidatus Carsonella ruddii and Candidatus Profftella armatura), besides the intracellular reproductive parasite Wolbachia. In this study, the density dynamics of the three endosymbionts associated with the psyllid D. citri was investigated by real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) at different developmental stages. Bacterial density was estimated by assessing the copy number of the 16S rRNA gene for Carsonella and Profftella, and of the ftsZ gene for Wolbachia. Analysis revealed a continuous growth of the symbionts during host development. Symbiont growth and rate curves were estimated by the Gompertz equation, which indicated a negative correlation between the degree of symbiont-host specialization and the time to achieve the maximum growth rate (t*). Carsonella densities were significantly lower than those of Profftella at all host developmental stages analyzed, even though they both displayed a similar trend. The growth rates of Wolbachia were similar to those of Carsonella, but Wolbachia was not as abundant. Adult males displayed higher symbiont densities than females. However, females showed a much more pronounced increase in symbiont density as they aged if compared to males, regardless of the incorporation of symbionts into female oocytes and egg laying. The increased density of endosymbionts in aged adults differs from the usual decrease observed during host aging in other insect-symbiont systems.