Simulating the evolutionary trajectories of metabolic pathways for insect symbionts in the genus Sodalis

Rebecca J Hall, Stephen Thorpe, Gavin H Thomas, A Jamie Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Insect-bacterial symbioses are ubiquitous, but there is still much to uncover about how these relationships establish, persist and evolve. The tsetse endosymbiont Sodalis glossinidius displays intriguing metabolic adaptations to its microenvironment, but the process by which this relationship evolved remains to be elucidated. The recent chance discovery of the free-living species of the genus Sodalis, Sodalis praecaptivus, provides a serendipitous starting point from which to investigate the evolution of this symbiosis. Here, we present a flux balance model for S. praecaptivus and empirically verify its predictions. Metabolic modelling is used in combination with a multi-objective evolutionary algorithm to explore the trajectories that S. glossinidius may have undertaken from this starting point after becoming internalized. The order in which key genes are lost is shown to influence the evolved populations, providing possible targets for future in vitro genetic manipulation. This method provides a detailed perspective on possible evolutionary trajectories for S. glossinidius in this fundamental process of evolutionary and ecological change.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors


  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins/genetics
  • Computational Biology/methods
  • Enterobacteriaceae/physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mutation
  • Symbiosis
  • Tsetse Flies/microbiology

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