Effects of facultative symbionts and heat stress on the metabolome of pea aphids

Gaelen Burke, Oliver Fiehn, Nancy Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


We examined metabolite pools of pea aphids with different facultative symbiont infections, and characterized their effects on aphid metabolism in baseline and heat stress conditions. The bacterial symbiont Serratia symbiotica protects aphid hosts from the detrimental results of heat stress and shields the obligate symbiont Buchnera from effects of heat. We investigated whether broad effects on metabolism might correlate with this protection. Both facultative symbiont infection and heat treatment had large effects on the aphid metabolome. All three pea aphid facultative symbionts had similar effects on aphid metabolism despite their evolutionary diversity. Paradoxically, heat triggers lysis of many S. symbiotica cells and a correlated rapid reduction in S. symbiotica titres within aphid hosts. We conclude that facultative symbionts can have substantial effects on host metabolic pools, and we hypothesize that the protective effects of S. symbiotica may reflect the delivery of protective metabolites to aphid or Buchnera cells, after heat exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-252
Number of pages11
JournalISME Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Microbiology


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