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Toxin-producing bacteria integrated into a pest insect

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A small cicada-like insect called the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) threatens the world's citrus industries, transmitting an incurable and lethal citrus disease. This notorious pest harbors two bacterial species within cells specially prepared for the purpose of symbiosis. Whereas these symbionts are believed to be essential for the host psyllid, their functional roles are not known.

Now, Atsushi Nakabachi at Toyohashi University of Technology and his colleagues have demonstrated that one of the symbionts, named Candidatus Profftella armatura, is an unprecedented type of symbiont that is fused into the host animal and plays a protective role to deter host's natural enemies.

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