The microbiome of the Maculinea-Myrmica host-parasite interaction

Di Salvo, Marco; Calcagnile, Matteo; Tala, Adelfia; Tredici, Salvatore Maurizio; Maffei, Massimo E.; Schonrogge, Karsten ORCID:; Barbero, Francesca; Alifano, Pietro. 2019 The microbiome of the Maculinea-Myrmica host-parasite interaction. Scientific Reports, 9, 8048. 10, pp.

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Maculinea (=Phengaris) are endangered butterflies that are characterized by a very complex biological cycle. Maculinea larvae behave as obligate parasites whose survival is strictly dependent on both particular food plants and species-specific Myrmica ants. In this interaction, Maculinea caterpillars induce Myrmica workers to retrieve and rear them in the nest by chemical and acoustic deception. Social insect symbiotic microorganisms play a key role in intraspecific and interspecific communication; therefore, it is possible that the Maculinea caterpillar microbiome might be involved in the chemical cross-talk by producing deceptive semiochemicals for host ants. To address this point, the microbiota of Maculinea alcon at different larval stages (phytophagous early larvae, intermediate larvae, carnivorous late larvae) was analyzed by using 16S rRNA-guided metabarcoding approach and compared to that of the host ant Myrmica scabrinodis. Structural and deduced functional profiles of the microbial communities were recorded, which were used to identify specific groups of microorganisms that may be involved in the chemical cross-talk. One of the most notable features was the presence in all larval stages and in the ants of two bacteria, Serratia marcescens and S. entomophila, which are involved in the chemical cross-talk between the microbes and their hosts.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: microbiome, Maculinea butterfly, Myrmica ant, social parasites, host-parasite interactions, coevolution, microbial communities
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 14 Jun 2019 09:10 +0 (UTC)

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