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A highly divergent Wolbachia with a tiny genome in an insect-parasitic tylenchid nematode

Cite this dataset

Dudzic, Jan; Curtis, Caitlin; Gowen, Brent; Perlman, Steve (2022). A highly divergent Wolbachia with a tiny genome in an insect-parasitic tylenchid nematode [Dataset]. Dryad.


Wolbachia symbionts are the most successful host-associated microbes on the planet, infecting arthropods and nematodes. Their role in nematodes is particularly enigmatic, with filarial nematode species either 100% infected and dependent on symbionts for reproduction and development, or not at all infected. We have discovered a highly divergent strain of Wolbachia in an insect-parasitic tylenchid nematode, Howardula sp., in a nematode clade that has not previously been known to harbour Wolbachia. While this nematode is 100% infected with Wolbachia, we did not detect it in related species. We sequenced the Howardula symbiont (wHow) genome and found that it is highly reduced, comprising only 550 kilobase pairs of DNA, ~35% smaller than the smallest Wolbachia nematode symbiont genomes. The wHow genome is a subset of all other Wolbachia genomes and has not acquired any new genetic information. While it has lost many genes, including genes involved in cell wall synthesis and cell division, it has retained the entire heme biosynthesis pathway, suggesting that heme supplementation is critical. wHow provides key insights into our understanding of what are the lower limits of Wolbachia cells, as well as the role of Wolbachia symbionts in the biology and convergent evolution of diverse parasitic nematodes.


The data stored in this dataset is described in detail in the methods section of the associated manuscript.


Swiss National Science Foundation, Award: P400PB_194337

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council