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  1. The worldwide endosymbiosis between arthropods and Wolbachia bacteria is an archetype for reproductive parasitism. This parasitic strategy rapidly increases the proportion of symbiont-transmitting mothers, and the most common form, cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), impacts insect evolution and arboviral control strategies. During CI, sperms from symbiotic males kill embryos of aposymbiotic females via two nuclear-targeting proteins, CifA and CifB, that alter sperm chromatin organization in Drosophila melanogaster. Here we hypothesize that Cif proteins metabolize nucleic acids of developing sperm to initiate genome integrity changes. Using in vitro and in situ transgenic, mutant, enzymatic, and cytochemical assays, we show that CifA is a previously-unrecognized DNase and RNase, and CifB is a DNase. Notably, in vitro nuclease activity translates to in situ spermatid DNA damage at the canoe stage of spermiogenesis. Evolution-guided mutations ablate Cif enzymatic activity. Nucleic acid metabolism by Cif enzymes expands a fundamental understanding of the mechanism of symbiont-mediated reproductive parasitism. 
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  2. Animal gastrointestinal tracts harbor a microbiome that is integral to host function, yet species from diverse phyla have evolved a reduced digestive system or lost it completely. Whether such changes are associated with alterations in the diversity and/or abundance of the microbiome remains an untested hypothesis in evolutionary symbiosis. Here, using the life history transition from planktotrophy (feeding) to lecithotrophy (nonfeeding) in the sea urchinHeliocidaris, we demonstrate that the lack of a functional gut corresponds with a reduction in microbial community diversity and abundance as well as the association with a diet-specific microbiome. We also determine that the lecithotroph vertically transmits a Rickettsiales that may complement host nutrition through amino acid biosynthesis and influence host reproduction. Our results indicate that the evolutionary loss of a functional gut correlates with a reduction in the microbiome and the association with an endosymbiont. Symbiotic transitions can therefore accompany life history transitions in the evolution of developmental strategies.

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  3. Phages (viruses that infect bacteria) play important roles in the gut ecosystem through infection of bacterial hosts, yet the gut virome remains poorly characterized. Mammalian gut viromes are dominated by double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) phages belonging to the order Caudovirales and single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) phages belonging to the family Microviridae. Since the relative proportion of each of these phage groups appears to correlate with age and health status in humans, it is critical to understand both ssDNA and dsDNA phages in the gut. Building upon prior research describing dsDNA viruses in the gut of Ciona robusta, a marine invertebrate model system used to study gut microbial interactions, this study investigated ssDNA phages found in the Ciona gut. We identified 258 Microviridae genomes, which were dominated by novel members of the Gokushovirinae subfamily, but also represented several proposed phylogenetic groups (Alpavirinae, Aravirinae, Group D, Parabacteroides prophages, and Pequeñovirus) and a novel group. Comparative analyses between Ciona specimens with full and cleared guts, as well as the surrounding water, indicated that Ciona retains a distinct and highly diverse community of ssDNA phages. This study significantly expands the known diversity within the Microviridae family and demonstrates the promise of Ciona as a model system for investigating their role in animal health. 
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  4. ABSTRACT Phage Cr39582 was induced by mitomycin C from Pseudoalteromonas sp. strain Cr6751, isolated from a marine invertebrate gut. Pseudoalteromonas phage Cr39582 has 85% pairwise nucleotide identity with phage PM2 but lacks sequence homology in the spike protein. This report supports previous bioinformatic identification of corticoviral sequences within aquatic bacterial genomes. 
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