Data from: Burkholderia bacteria infectiously induce the proto-farming symbiosis of Dictyostelium amoebae and food bacteria
DiSalvo, Susanne et al. (2016), Data from: Burkholderia bacteria infectiously induce the proto-farming symbiosis of Dictyostelium amoebae and food bacteria, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.pb2sq
Symbiotic associations can allow an organism to acquire novel traits by accessing the genetic repertoire of its partner. In the Dictyostelium discoideum farming symbiosis, certain amoebas (termed “farmers”) stably associate with bacterial partners. Farmers can suffer a reproductive cost but also gain beneficial capabilities, such as carriage of bacterial food (proto-farming) and defense against competitors. Farming status previously has been attributed to amoeba genotype, but the role of bacterial partners in its induction has not been examined. Here, we explore the role of bacterial associates in the initiation, maintenance, and phenotypic effects of the farming symbiosis. We demonstrate that two clades of farmer-associated Burkholderia isolates colonize D. discoideum nonfarmers and infectiously endow them with farmer-like characteristics, indicating that Burkholderia symbionts are a major driver of the farming phenomenon. Under food-rich conditions, Burkholderia-colonized amoebas produce fewer spores than uncolonized counterparts, with the severity of this reduction being dependent on the Burkholderia colonizer. However, the induction of food carriage by Burkholderia colonization may be considered a conditionally adaptive trait because it can confer an advantage to the amoeba host when grown in food-limiting conditions. We observed Burkholderia inside and outside colonized D. discoideum spores after fruiting body formation; this observation, together with the ability of Burkholderia to colonize new amoebas, suggests a mixed mode of symbiont transmission. These results change our understanding of the D. discoideum farming symbiosis by establishing that the bacterial partner, Burkholderia, is an important causative agent of the farming phenomenon.