The genome sequence of Blochmannia floridanus: comparative analysis of reduced genomes.
Bacterial symbioses are widespread among insects, probably being one of the key factors of their evolutionary success. We present the complete genome sequence of Blochmannia floridanus, the primary endosymbiont of carpenter ants. Although these ants feed on a complex diet, this symbiosis very likely has a nutritional basis: Blochmannia is able to supply nitrogen and sulfur compounds to the host while it takes advantage of the host metabolic machinery. Remarkably, these bacteria lack all known genes involved in replication initiation (dnaA, priA, and recA). The phylogenetic analysis of a set of conserved protein-coding genes shows that Bl. floridanus is phylogenetically related to Buchnera aphidicola and Wigglesworthia glossinidia, the other endosymbiotic bacteria whose complete genomes have been sequenced so far. Comparative analysis of the five known genomes from insect endosymbiotic bacteria reveals they share only 313 genes, a number that may be close to the minimum gene set necessary to sustain endosymbiotic life.