Home page / Fellows & Labs / Fellows & Alumni / Alejandro Manzano Marín

Alejandro Manzano Marín

Alejandro Manzano Marín

session, year:
2016 1st


Receiving laboratory:
CBGP Centre for Biology and Management of Populations, Montpellier

Country of origin:


Country of destination:


Mobility project

Role of endosymbiotic bacteria in the diversification of a globally-distributed aphid genus: a Phylogenomic Analysis

Endosymbiotic bacteria of eukaryotes provide an expanded metabolic repertoire which confers an evolutionary advantage to their hosts when facing environmental challenges. As many insects, aphids keep an obligate nutritional symbiont, Buchnera, which provides essential amino acids and vitamins, enabling the aphid to feed on the nutritionally-unbalanced plant phloem. In the Lachninae subfamily, the loss of a symbiotic function in the Buchnera genome has triggered the establishment of a coobligate secondary endosymbiont. Within this subfamily, the genus Cinara is the most diverse and has managed to expand throughout the Holoartic by colonising a large set of conifer species. In addition, most Cinara species harbour the endosymbiont Serratia symbiotica, however, different Serratia strains present contrasting tissue tropisms in different hosts and vary greatly in their genomic content and morphological traits. Furthermore, in some lineages of Cinara, Serratia has been replaced by other bacterial lineages. The aim of this project is to understand the role of these endosymbiotic bacterial partners in the diversification of their hosts. It is expected that the similarities and differences among the symbionts' metabolic capabilities and aphid niches (plant species, feeding sites, and climatic niches) will elucidate the symbionts role in the diversification of their hosts. Through whole-genome sequencing and annotation of the different endosymbionts from Cinara species, representing about half of the genus species diversity and the range of ecological niches occupied by the genus, we aim to both infer the metabolic contributions of the symbionts and their phylogenetic relationships. Cospeciation analyses will be conducted, in order to infer the history of the association of the symbionts with Cinara. Using comparative genomics, in combination with phylogenetic methods, we will evaluate the contribution of Cinara' endosymbiotic consortia to the diversification of their hosts.

Biography & research interests

From 2006 to 2010, I studied my undergraduate in Genomic Sciences in Mexico at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). During my last year, I performed research on the genomics and evolution of Serratia symbiotica, the secondary mutualistic co-obligate endosymbiotic bacterium of the the aphid Cinara tujafilina. During this period, I developed a great interest in both the genomic changes and metabolic adaptations that mutualistic symbiotic bacteria undergo during their Life cycle. Next, I moved to Spain to the Cavanilles Institute for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology (ICBiBE, Valencia), where I got my master’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology and Genetics. Afterwards, I got a Marie Curie ITN Doctoral Fellowship (SYMBIOMICS) to do my PhD at the ICBiBE working on the comparative genomics of mutualistic co-obligate di-symbiotic systems in the Lachninae subfamily of aphids. During this period, I investigated the evolution of co-obligate symbiosis, symbiont replacement, and the metabolic bases of symbiont cooperation for the production of essential compounds for their hosts.

Selected publications

Manzano-Marín A, Coeur d’acier A, Clamens A-L, Orvain C, Cruaud C, Barbe V, & Jousselin E. 2019. Serial horizontal transfer of vitamin-biosynthetic genes enables the establishment of new nutritional symbionts in aphids' di-symbiotic systems. bioRxiv, 556274. Doi: 10.1101/556274 (Preprint)

Manzano-Marín A, Coeur d’acier A, Clamens A-L, Orvain C, Cruaud C, Barbe V, & Jousselin E. 2018. A freeloader? The highly eroded yet large genome of the Serratia symbiotica symbiont of Cinara strobi. Genome Biology and Evolution, 10(9), 2178-2189. Doi: 10.1093/gbe/evy173

Meseguer A S, Manzano-Marín A, Coeur d’acier A, Clamens A-L, Godefroid M, & Jousselin E. 2017. Buchnera has changed flatmate but the repeated replacement of co-obligate symbionts is not associated with the ecological expansions of their aphid hosts. Molecular Ecology, 26(8), 2363-2378. Doi: 10.1111/mec.13910

Manzano-Marín A, Szabó G, Simon J-C, Horn M, & Latorre A. 2017. Happens in the best of subfamilies: establishment and repeated replacements of co-obligate secondary endosymbionts within Lachninae aphids. Environmental Microbiology, 19(1), 393-408. Doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13633

Manzano-Marín A & Latorre A. 2016. Snapshots of a shrinking partner: Genome reduction in Serratia symbiotica. Scientific Reports, 6, 32590. Doi: 10.1038/ srep32590.

Awards & patents

Outstanding Doctorate Award: In the area ”Cellular and Molecular Biology”. Universitat de València. Jul 2018

SMBE Young Investigator Travel Award: Annual Meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 2018 (SMBE2018). Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. Jul 2018

FEMS Congress Grant for Early Career Scientists: 7th FEMS Congress of European Microbiologists (FEMS2017). Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Jul 2017

SMBE Congress Registration Award: Annual Meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 2017 (SMBE2017). Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. Jul 2017

MCAA Micro Travel Grant: Gordon Research Conference on Animal-Microbe Symbioses: Host-Microbe Associations at the Foundation of the Biosphere. Marie Curie Alumni Association. Jun 2017

Talks in annual meetings

2017 / P1 Molecular and Cellular,P2 Tissue and Individual / by Alejandro Manzano Marín / Fellows Speed Presentation


Endosymbiosis, metabolic analyses, coevolution, speciation., plant-insect interactions, aphids, metagenomics