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Étude des relations entre les Coxiella endosymbiotiques, leurs hôtes tique et C. burnetii, l'agent de la Fièvre Q

Olivier Morel 1
1 Génétique et évolution des interactions hôtes-parasites
GINSENG - Département génétique, interactions et évolution des génomes [LBBE]
Abstract : Among arthropods, ticks are the most important vectors of pathogens in terms of diversity and are the leading cause of transmission of vector-borne diseases in Europe and North America. While these pathogens are the most studied, ticks also harbor other symbionts that contribute significantly to their phenotype. Recently many symbiotic bacteria have been described in ticks. Among them, bacteria exhibiting strong homology with Coxiella burnetii have been discovered. Unlike C. burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever, Coxiella-Like Endosymbiont (Coxiella-LE) seems unable to infect other hosts than ticks. They are among the most widespread maternally-inherited symbionts in tick species and could play an important role in their biology. Coxiella-LE may indeed have a nutritional role by synthesizing B vitamins and cofactors absent from their host's diet. To understand the interaction between Coxiella-LE and their hosts, my thesis work focused on the evolution of the Coxiella genus. For this purpose, phylogenetic analyzes and comparative genomic approaches have been carried out. I have participated in the establishment of the phylogeny of the Coxiella genus by Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST), which highlights the diversity of this bacterial genus. Interestingly C. burnetii emerges within one of these clads of tick endosymbiotic bacteria, which may suggest a recent transition towards pathogenicity. Two new genomes of Coxiella-LE were sequenced to perform comparative genomic analyses. All Coxiella genomes studied, including those of C. burnetii, possess the genes encoding for the biosynthesis of B vitamins and cofactors, as usually found in nutritional symbionts of blood-sucking arthropods. This result strengthens the idea of an important role of Coxiella-LE for their host ticks and, according to the phylogeny, the common ancestor of these bacteria was therefore a mutualistic tick endosymbiont. However, traces of genes involved in the virulence of C. burnetii have been found in genomes belonging to distinct clads of Coxiella-LE, which rather indicate recurrent losses of virulence. Moreover, different levels of genomic erosion are found in the genomes of Coxiella-LE studied, which could indicate different transitions towards the mutualistic way of life. Such recurrent transfers would explain the absence of cocladogenesis between Coxiella-LE and their host phylogeny, an uncommon feature for an obligatory symbiont. As several maternally-inherited symbionts can be found in ticks, the second axis of my thesis has focused on the impact of co-infections. For this purpose, a population of ticks belonging to the species Dermacentor marginatus was studied. This species is frequently infected with Coxiella-LE, Rickettsia and Spiroplasma bacteria and different infection status can be observed in individuals from a single population. No competition has been demonstrated between these bacteria, since none interferes with the transmission and density of the others. However, in case of triple infection, the fitness of the host appears greatly reduced with a significant reduction in size (10%). Since vertical transmission of these symbionts is incomplete, understanding how these symbionts and co-infections are maintained despite this significant cost remains an open question. If the symbiotic strategies of these symbionts are still unknown, it is likely that their transmission is not only maternal, but also horizontal [etc…]
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Olivier Morel. Étude des relations entre les Coxiella endosymbiotiques, leurs hôtes tique et C. burnetii, l'agent de la Fièvre Q. Maladies infectieuses. Université de Lyon, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSE1241⟩. ⟨tel-01771066⟩

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