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Analyzing the bacteria in leaf beetles' guts

Analyzing the bacteria in leaf beetles' guts

Scientists have characterized the bacterial diversity present in the guts of 5 related species of leaf beetles. Ref. Art.: Montagna M, Gomez-Zurita J, Giorgi A, Epis S, Lozzia G, and Bandi C (2015). Metamicrobiomics in herbivore beetles of the genus Cryptocephalus: toward the understanding of ecological determinants in insect symbiosis. Insect Science

28.05.2015

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/Leaf_Beetle_(Gastrophysa_viridula)_-_male.jpgScientists have characterized the diversity (381 OTUs) of bacteria present in the guts of several representatives of five very closely related species of leaf beetles in the genus Cryptocephalus. Jesús Gomez-Zurita, the IBE representative in this study, brought in an ecological as well as an evolutionary flavour to the interpretation of data. In this respect, he demonstrated that phylogenetic proximity of the beetle species does not explain the taxonomic structure of the microbial communities, while these seem to be stable within species, at least considering their metabolic potential. Assuming that host phylogeny does not drive the composition of the microbiome, they looked into the potential effect of environmental variables -including host plants, geographic distances or elevation- to find that only the latter seemed to have an effect.

These are the first steps into an exciting, hopefully productive field looking at ongoing, still perplexing evolutionary and ecological patterns about our leaf beetles... but this time from within!

This study was done in collaboration with a team of microbiologists at the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy).

Reference Article: Montagna M, Gomez-Zurita J, Giorgi A, Epis S, Lozzia G, and Bandi C (2015). Metamicrobiomics in herbivore beetles of the genus Cryptocephalus (Chrysomelidae): toward the understanding of ecological determinants in insect symbiosis. Insect Science

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