Horizontally transmitted symbionts and host colonization of ecological niches.
Facultative or "secondary" symbionts are common in eukaryotes, particularly insects. While not essential for host survival, they often provide significant fitness benefits. It has been hypothesized that secondary symbionts form a "horizontal gene pool" shuttling adaptive genes among host lineages in an analogous manner to plasmids and other mobile genetic elements in bacteria. However, we do not know whether the distributions of symbionts across host populations reflect random acquisitions fo...Expand abstract
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