One to host them all: genomics of the diverse bacterial endosymbionts of the spider Oedothorax gibbosus

Tamara Halter, Stephan Köstlbacher, Thomas Rattei, Frederik Hendrickx, Alejandro Manzano-Marín (Corresponding author), Matthias Horn

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


Bacterial endosymbionts of the groups Wolbachia, Cardinium and Rickettsiaceae are well known for their diverse effects on their arthropod hosts, ranging from mutualistic relationships to reproductive phenotypes. Here, we analysed a unique system in which the dwarf spider Oedothorax gibbosus is co-infected with up to five different endosymbionts affiliated with Wolbachia, 'Candidatus Tisiphia' (formerly Torix group Rickettsia), Cardinium and Rhabdochlamydia. Using short-read genome sequencing data, we show that the endosymbionts are heterogeneously distributed among O. gibbosus populations and are frequently found co-infecting spider individuals. To study this intricate host-endosymbiont system on a genome-resolved level, we used long-read sequencing to reconstruct closed genomes of the Wolbachia, 'Ca. Tisiphia' and Cardinium endosymbionts. We provide insights into the ecology and evolution of the endosymbionts and shed light on the interactions with their spider host. We detected high quantities of transposable elements in all endosymbiont genomes and provide evidence that ancestors of the Cardinium, 'Ca. Tisiphia' and Wolbachia endosymbionts have co-infected the same hosts in the past. Our findings contribute to broadening our knowledge about endosymbionts infecting one of the largest animal phyla on Earth and show the usefulness of transposable elements as an evolutionary 'contact-tracing' tool.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000943
Number of pages16
JournalMicrobial genomics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 106014 Genomics
  • 106012 Evolutionary research
  • 106022 Microbiology
  • 106059 Microbiome research


  • Animals
  • Spiders/genetics
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Bacteroidetes/genetics
  • Genomics
  • Rickettsia/genetics
  • Wolbachia/genetics

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