The culturable bacterial community of frass produced by larvae ofRhynchophorus ferrugineusOlivier (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in the Canary island date palm

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Aims:Larvae of the red palm weevil (RPW) Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Olivier (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) feed inside palm stem tissues, making galleries and producing a wet fermenting frass. We characterized the culturable bacteria associated with frass produced by tunnelling larvae inside the Canary island date palms and investigated the role of frass and gut bacteria in plant polymers breakdown.Methods and Results:A culture-dependent method was used to isolate bacteria from frass and noninfested palm tissues. Bacterial isolates were grouped into operational taxonomic units based on polymorphisms in the ITS-PCR profiles, and representative isolates were identified by partial sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. Frass bacteria were dominated by 2,3-butanediol fermenter Enterobacteriaceae. None of the bacterial isolates was able to degrade cellulose; however, cellulolytic and hemicellulolytic bacteria were isolated from the larval gut enrichment cultures.Conclusions:Frass bacteria are specifically associated with the RPW larvae and might play beneficial roles for RPW, other than nutritional, that deserve further investigations. Breakdown of plant polymers probably occurs inside the larvae digestive system.Significance and Impact of the Study:Frass and gut micro-organisms of R. ferrugineus should be included in studies of the interactions between RPW, its plant hosts, and its enemies.

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