Diversity of gut microbiota increases with aging and starvation in the desert locust
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Here we report the effects of starvation and insect age on the diversity of gut microbiota of adult desert locusts, Schistocerca gregaria, using denaturing gradient gel electrophoretic (DGGE) analysis of bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Sequencing of excised DGGE bands revealed the presence of only one potentially novel uncultured member of the Gammaproteobacteria in the guts of fed, starved, young or old locusts. Most of the 16S rRNA gene sequences were closely related to known cultured bacterial species. DGGE profiles suggested that bacterial diversity increased with insect age and did not provide evidence for a characteristic locust gut bacterial community. Starved insects are often more prone to disease, probably because they compromise on immune defence. However, the increased diversity of Gammaproteobacteria in starved locusts shown here may improve defence against enteric threats because of the role of gut bacteria in colonization resistance.