Microbes that live inside insects play critical roles in host nutrition, physiology, and behavior. Although Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are one of the most diverse insect taxa, their microbial symbionts are little-studied, particularly during metamorphosis. Here, using ribosomal tag pyrosequencing of DNA and RNA, we investigated biodiversity and activity of gut microbiotas across the holometabolous life cycle of Spodoptera littoralis, a notorious agricultural pest worldwide. Proteobacteria and Firmicutes dominate but undergo a structural "metamorphosis" in tandem with its host. Enterococcus, Pantoea and Citrobacter were abundant and active in early-instar, while Clostridia increased in late-instar. Interestingly, only enterococci persisted through metamorphosis. Female adults harbored high proportions of Enterococcus, Klebsiella and Pantoea, whereas males largely shifted to Klebsiella. Comparative functional analysis with PICRUSt indicated that early-instar larval microbiome was more enriched for genes involved in cell motility and carbohydrate metabolism, whereas in late-instar amino acid, cofactor and vitamin metabolism increased. Genes involved in energy and nucleotide metabolism were abundant in pupae. Female adult microbiome was enriched for genes relevant to energy metabolism, while an increase in the replication and repair pathway was observed in male. Understanding the metabolic activity of these herbivore-associated microbial symbionts may assist the development of novel pest-management strategies.
PubMed ID: 27389097
Journal: Sci Rep
Date Published: 9th Jul 2016
Created: 20th Oct 2016 at 12:37