Accessing the Hidden Microbial Diversity of Aphids: an Illustration of How Culture-Dependent Methods Can Be Used to Decipher the Insect Microbiota
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Microorganism communities that live inside insects can play critical roles in host development, nutrition, immunity, physiology, and behavior. Over the past decade, high-throughput sequencing reveals the extraordinary microbial diversity associated with various insect species and provides information independent of our ability to culture these microbes. However, their cultivation in the laboratory remains crucial for a deep understanding of their physiology and the roles they play in host insects. Aphids are insects that received specific attention because of their ability to form symbiotic associations with a wide range of endosymbionts that are considered as the core microbiome of these sap-feeding insects. But, if the functional diversity of obligate and facultative endosymbionts has been extensively studied in aphids, the diversity of gut symbionts and other associated microorganisms received limited consideration. Herein, we present a culture-dependent method that allowed us to successfully isolate microorganisms from several aphid species. The isolated microorganisms were assigned to 24 bacterial genera from the Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria phyla and three fungal genera from the Ascomycota and Basidiomycota phyla. In our study, we succeeded in isolating already described bacteria found associated to aphids (e.g., the facultative symbiont Serratia symbiotica), as well as microorganisms that have never been described in aphids before. By unraveling a microbial community that so far has been ignored, our study expands our current knowledge on the microbial diversity associated with aphids and illustrates how fast and simple culture-dependent approaches can be applied to insects in order to capture their diverse microbiota members.
KeywordsInsect Aphid microbiota Culture-dependent method Molecular phylogeny Symbiotic bacteria
We are very thankful to Prof. Jacques Mahillon from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, for kindly providing comments and suggestions and to Samir Fakhour for the critical revision of the manuscript.
This study was financially supported by Grant FRFC 6886819 from the Belgian Funds for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS). This paper is number BRC359 of the Biodiversity Research Centre.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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