Insect endosymbiont proliferation is limited by lipid availability
Spiroplasma poulsonii is a maternally transmitted bacterial endosymbiont that is naturally associated with Drosophila melanogaster. S. poulsonii resides extracellularly in the hemolymph, where it must acquire metabolites to sustain proliferation. In this study, we find that Spiroplasma proliferation specifically depletes host hemolymph diacylglyceride, the major lipid class transported by the lipoprotein, Lpp. RNAi-mediated knockdown of Lpp expression, which reduces the amount of circulating lipids, inhibits Spiroplasma proliferation demonstrating that bacterial proliferation requires hemolymph-lipids. Altogether, our study shows that an insect endosymbiont acquires specific lipidic metabolites from the transport lipoproteins in the hemolymph of its host. In addition, we show that the proliferation of this endosymbiont is limited by the availability of hemolymph lipids. This feature could limit endosymbiont over-proliferation under conditions of host nutrient limitation as lipid availability is strongly influenced by the nutritional state.