Microbial Ecology

, 57:542 | Cite as

Inherited Fungal and Bacterial Endosymbionts of a Parasitic Wasp and Its Cockroach Host

  • Cara M. Gibson
  • Martha S. Hunter
Original Article


Bacterial endosymbionts of insects are increasingly being recognized as common, diverse, and integral to the biology of their hosts. Inherited fungal symbionts have been largely overlooked, however, even though insect guts appear to be a key habitat for an incredible array of fungal diversity. Like bacteria, fungal symbionts also likely play important roles in the ecology and evolution of their insect associates. The objective of this study was to lay the foundations for understanding the roles of the vertically transmitted fungal and bacterial associates of both the brownbanded cockroach, Supella longipalpa, and its parasitic wasp, Comperia merceti. We used culture-dependent and culture-independent molecular methods and phylogenetic analyses in order to identify the symbionts. Two fungal associates of brownbanded cockroaches were found. To our knowledge, this is the first record of vertically transmitted fungal symbionts in the order Blattaria. The wasp was found to house a close relative of one of the cockroach fungi but no bacterial symbionts. Finally, the brownbanded cockroaches also harbored three lineages of bacterial symbionts: Blattabacterium and two lineages of Wolbachia, indicating the number of vertically transmitted symbionts in this insect may be as many as five.


Sister Taxon Parasitic Wasp Cytoplasmic Incompatibility Bacterial Symbiont Fungal Symbiont 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The University of Arizona Departments of Entomology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology supported CMG while conducting this research. In addition, CMG received two small grants: a Mycological Society of America Graduate Fellowship Award and a Center for Insect Science Graduate Student Research Award. This project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant (2006-35302-17165), and a National Science Foundation grant (DEB-0542961), both to MSH. We would like to thank M. Hoffman, J. U’Ren, C. Schmidt, A. Swanson, A. Wild, and D. Maddison for helpful discussions about the phylogenetic analysis. We would also like to thank the Hunter Lab Group, J. U’Ren, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on previous drafts of the manuscript and R. VanDriesche for sending us C. merceti.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of EntomologyThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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