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Symbiotic gut bacteria play a pivotal role in providing essential nutrients to insects and thereby allow them to expand into otherwise inaccessible environments and exploit novel food resources. Pyrrhocoridae is a family of landbugs comprising of 300 species, many of which exhibit aposematic coloration. Among them, Pyrrhocoris apterus is one of the most widely distributed species in the palaearctic region. They feed predominantly on the dry ripe linden seeds. P. apterus is an extensively studied model organism in the fields of physiological, endocrinological and genetic research, but comparatively little is known about their symbiotic gut microbial community. Previous studies discovered a specific actinobacterial symbiont (Coriobacterium glomerans) in the mid-gut that is vertically transmitted and seems to be essential for successful growth and reproduction of the bugs.
My PhD research will be divided into three parts, In the first part, I will characterize the whole microbial community of the midgut (M3) of the pyrrhocoris apterus using three different methods namely culture dependant, culture independent (Sangers sequencing) and next generation 454 pyrosequencing method.
In the second,We have also identified that the P. apterus has the ability to uptake its gut symbionts horizontally. In general horizontal transmission of the symbionts increases its virulence thereby having a direct influence on the fitness of host insect. Hence I will also look into the fitness effect of horizontal transmission versus vertical transmission of gut microbial symbionts on P. apterus and its gut microbial community.
Finally, our initial results suggest that the members of the Pyrrhocoridae family harbor similar symbiotic microbial community. In this project we will be characterizing the microbial community of several species of the Pyrrhocoridae family. So we can map the evolution of the symbiotic microbial community within the Pyrrhocoridae family.
last updated on 2012-12-12