Bacterial and fungal symbionts of parasiticDendroctonusbark beetles

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Abstract

Bark beetles (Curculionidae: Scolytinae) are one of the most species-rich herbivorous insect groups with many shifts in ecology and host-plant use, which may be mediated by their bacterial and fungal symbionts. While symbionts are well studied in economically important, tree-killing species, little is known about parasitic species whose broods develop in living trees. Here, using culture-dependent and independent methods, we provide a comprehensive overview of the associated bacteria, yeasts and filamentous fungi of the parasitic Dendroctonus micans, D. punctatus and D. valens, and compare them to those of other tree-inhabiting insects. Despite inhabiting different geographical regions and/or host trees, the three species showed similar microbial communities. Enterobacteria were the most prevalent bacteria, in particular Rahnella, Pantoea and Ewingella, in addition to Streptomyces. Likewise, the yeasts Candida/Cyberlindnera were the most prominent fungi. All these microorganisms are widespread among tree-inhabiting insects with various ecologies, but their high prevalence overall might indicate a beneficial role such as detoxification of tree defenses, diet supplementation or protection against pathogens. As such, our results enable comparisons of symbiont communities of parasitic bark beetles with those of other beetles, and will contribute to our understanding of how microbial symbioses facilitate dietary shifts in insects.

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