Variations in the identity and complexity of endosymbiont combinations in whitefly hosts

Einat Zchori-Fein, Tamar Lahav, Shiri Freilich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The target of natural selection is suggested to be the holobiont - the organism together with its associated symbiotic microorganisms. The well-defined endosymbiotic communities of insects make them a useful model for exploring the role of symbiotic interactions in shaping the functional repertoire of plants and animals. Here, we studied the variations in the symbiotic communities of the sweet potato whitefly Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) by compiling a dataset of over 2000 individuals derived from several independent screenings. The secondary endosymbionts harbored by each individual were clustered into entities termed Facultative Endosymbiont Combinations (FECs), each representing a natural assemblage of co-occurring bacterial genera. The association of FECs with whitefly individuals stratified the otherwise homogeneous population into holobiont units. We both identified bacterial assemblages that are specific to whitefly groups sharing unique genetic backgrounds, and characterized the FEC variations within these groups. The analysis revealed that FEC complexity is positively correlated with both distance from the equator and specificity of the genetic clade of the host insect. These findings highlight the importance of symbiotic combinations in shaping the distribution patterns of B. tabaci and possibly other insect species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number310
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberJULY
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacteriome
  • Bemisia tabaci
  • Facultative endosymbionts
  • Holobiont


Dive into the research topics of 'Variations in the identity and complexity of endosymbiont combinations in whitefly hosts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this