Analysing host-shift patterns of Wolbachia strains (Alphaproteobacteria) using comparative genomics

Wolbachia is an intracellular endosymbiotic bacteria found in arthropod and nematodes. Strains and supergroups of Wolbachia can be transmitted vertically, from mother to the offspring, and also horizontally, among not related, different hosts. However, pathways of horizontal transfer are still not fully understood. Most of the analysis made so far yielded incongruent results, which suggests that horizontal transfer should be studied using genome-scale approaches. We are using a phylogenomic approach to compare the relative contribution of phylogeny, ecology, and biogeography on the horizontal transmission of Wolbachia strains among arthropods. For this purpose, we are screening the infection status of collected arthropod communities (including insects, spiders, mites, etc.) of selected plant species. After identification of the host to the species level, we are extracting DNA and screening for Wolbachia infection. DNA of selected infected hosts is used for Next-generation sequencing (Illumina HiSeq X) that is later used for mitochondrial and bacterial genome assemblies.