Taxonomy of lice and their endosymbiotic bacteria in the post-genomic era

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2012
Authors:B. M. Boyd, Reed D. L.
Journal:Clinical Microbiology and Infection
Pagination:324 - 331
Date Published:Jan-04-2012
Keywords:Insecta, Liposcelidae, Proteobacteria, Riesia

Recent studies of molecular and genomic data from the parasitic lice of birds and mammals, as well as their mutualistic endosymbiotic bacteria, are changing the phylogenetic relationships and taxonomy of these organisms. Phylogenetic studies of lice suggest that verte- brate parasitism arose multiple times from free-living book and bark lice. Molecular clocks show that the major families of lice arose in the late Mesozoic and radiated in the early Cenozoic, following the radiation of mammals and birds. The recent release of the human louse genome has provided new opportunities for research. The genome is being used to find new genetic markers for phylogenetics and population genetics, to understand the complex evolutionary relationships of mitochondrial genes, and to study genome evolution. Genomes are informing us not only about lice, but also about their obligate endosymbiotic bacteria. In contrast to lice and their hosts, lice and their endosymbionts do not share common evolutionary histories, suggesting that endosymbionts are either replaced over time or that there are multiple independent origins of symbiosis in lice. Molecular phylogenetics and whole genome sequencing have recently provided the first insights into the phylogenetic placement and metabolic characteristics of these distantly related bacteria. Comparative genomics between distantly related louse symbionts can provide insights into conserved metabolic functions and can help to explain how distantly related species are fulfilling their role as mutualistic symbionts. In lice and their endosymbionts, molecular data and gen- ome sequencing are driving our understanding of evolutionary relationships and classification, and will for the foreseeable future.

Short Title:Clinical Microbiology and Infection
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