Insect fungal symbionts: A promising source of detoxifying enzymes

Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (Impact Factor: 2.32). 04/1992; 9(3):149-161. DOI: 10.1007/BF01569619
Source: OAI

ABSTRACT Many species of insects cultivate, inoculate, or contain symbiotic fungi. Insects feed on plant materials that contain plant-produced defensive toxins, or are exposed to insecticides or other pesticides when they become economically important pests. Therefore, it is likely that the symbiotic fungi are also exposed to these toxins and may actually contribute to detoxification of these compounds. Fungi associated with bark beetles, ambrosia beetles, termites, leaf-cutting ants, long-horned beetles, wood wasps, and drug store beetles can variously metabolize/detoxify tannins, lignins, terpenes, esters, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and other toxins. The fungi (Attamyces) cultivated by the ants and the yeast (Symbiotaphrina) contained in the cigarette beetle gut appear to have broad-spectrum detoxifying abilities. The present limiting factor for using many of these fungi for large scale detoxification of, for example, contaminated soils or agricultural commodities is their slow growth rate, but conventional strain selection techniques or biotechnological approaches should overcome this problem.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Whereas the impact of endosymbionts on the ecology of their hosts is well known in some insect species, the question of whether host communities are influenced by endosymbionts remains largely unanswered. Notably, the coexistence of host species competing with each other, which is expected to be stabilized by their ecological differences, could be facilitated by differences in their endosymbionts. Yet, the composition of endosymbiotic communities housed by natural communities of competing host species is still almost unknown. In this study, we started filling this gap by describing and comparing the bacterial endosymbiotic communities of four sibling weevil species (Curculio spp.) that compete with each other to lay eggs into oak acorns (Quercus spp.) and exhibit marked ecological differences. RESULTS: All four species housed the primary endosymbiont Candidatus Curculioniphilus buchneri, yet each of these had a clearly distinct community of secondary endosymbionts, including Rickettsia, Spiroplasma, and two Wolbachia strains. Notably, three weevil species harbored their own predominant facultative endosymbiont and possessed the remaining symbionts at a residual infection level. CONCLUSIONS: The four competing species clearly harbor distinct endosymbiotic communities. We discuss how such endosymbiotic communities could spread and keep distinct in the four insect species, and how these symbionts might affect the organization and species richness of host communities.
    BMC Evolutionary Biology 02/2013; 13(1):28. · 3.29 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Hunt bumble bee (Bombus huntii Greene, Hymenoptera: Apidae) is a holometabolous, social insect important as a pollinator in natural and agricultural ecosystems in western North America. Bumble bees spend a significant amount of time foraging on a wide variety of flowering plants, and this activity exposes them to both plant toxins and pesticides, posing a threat to individual and colony survival. Little is known about what detoxification pathways are active in bumble bees, how the expression of detoxification genes changes across life stages, or how the number of detoxification genes expressed in B. huntii compares to other insects. We found B. huntii expressed at least 584 genes associated with detoxification and stress responses. The expression levels of some of these genes, such as those encoding the cytochrome P450s, glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) and glycosidases, vary among different life stages to a greater extent than do other genes. We also found that the number of P450s, GSTs and esterase genes expressed by B. huntii is similar to the number of these genes found in the genomes of other bees, namely Bombus terrestris, Bombus impatiens, Apis mellifera and Megachile rotundata, but many fewer than are found in the fly Drosophila melanogaster. Bombus huntii has transcripts for a large number of detoxification and stress related proteins, including oxidation and reduction enzymes, conjugation enzymes, hydrolytic enzymes, ABC transporters, cadherins, and heat shock proteins. The diversity of genes expressed within some detoxification pathways varies among the life stages and castes, and we typically identified more genes in the adult females than in larvae, pupae, or adult males, for most pathways. Meanwhile, we found the numbers of detoxification and stress genes expressed by B. huntii to be more similar to other bees than to the fruit fly. The low number of detoxification genes, first noted in the honey bee, appears to be a common phenomenon among bees, and perhaps results from their symbiotic relationship with plants. Many flowering plants benefit from pollinators, and thus offer these insects rewards (such as nectar) rather than defensive plant toxins.
    BMC Genomics 12/2013; 14(1):874. · 4.40 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Gut microbiota has diverse ecological and evolutionary effects on its hosts. However, the ways in which it responds to environmental heterogeneity and host physiology remain poorly understood. To this end, we surveyed intestinal microbiota of Holotrichia parallela larvae at different instars and from different geographic regions. Bacterial 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were constructed and clones were subsequently screened by DGGE and sequenced. Firmicutes and Proteobacteria were the major phyla, and bacteria belonging to Ruminococcaceae, Lachnospiraceae, Enterobacteriaceae, Desulfovibrionaceae and Rhodocyclaceae families were commonly found in all natural populations. However, bacterial diversity (Chao1 and Shannon indices) and community structure varied across host populations, and the observed variation can be explained by soil pH, organic carbon and total nitrogen, and the climate factors (e.g., mean annual temperature) of the locations where the populations were sampled. Furthermore, increases in the species richness and diversity of gut microbiota were observed during larval growth. Bacteroidetes comprised the dominant group in the first instar; however, Firmicutes composed the majority of the hindgut microbiota during the second and third instars. Our results suggest that the gut's bacterial community changes in response to environmental heterogeneity and host's physiology, possibly to meet the host's ecological needs or physiological demands.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(2):e57169. · 3.73 Impact Factor


Available from