Beetles that share food may also share microorganisms

This IBE study shows, using massive sequencing techniques, that different species of herbivorous beetles could be exchanging microorganisms through the plants they eat.

Calligrapha alni Schaeffer, one of the species in the study. Credit: Tinguaro Montelongo

A recent study by the Institute for Evolutionary Biology (IBE: CSIC-UPF) has shown that different species of herbivorous beetles that share food present, inside their cells, communities of similar microorganisms.

The study analyzed, using a massive sequencing technique known as metabarcoding, the presence of bacteria in four species of beetles in comparison with the bacteria found in the leaves they eat.

The obtained data suggest that the transmission of bacteria between the different species would be taking place by sharing the same leaves, through remains of saliva or excrement, among others.

“It is one of the first times that the role of plants as a possible intermediate state in the transmission of endosymbionts has been demonstrated with genetic data”
Jesus Gómez-Zurita, Principal Investigator at IBE

These results could be used in ecological studies on bacterial infections, as well as in the biological control of herbivorous insects.

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