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Two Apriona Species Sharing a Host Niche Have Different Gut Microbiome Diversity


The adaptability of herbivorous insects to toxic plant defense compounds is partly related to the structure of the gut microbiome. To overcome plant resistance, the insect gut microbiome should respond to a wide range of allelochemicals derived from dietary niches. Nevertheless, for sibling herbivorous insect species, whether the gut microbiome contributes to success in food niche competition is unclear. Based on 16S rDNA high-throughput sequencing, the gut microbiomes of two Apriona species that share the same food niche were investigated in this study to determine whether the gut microbiome contributes to insect success in food-niche competition. Our observations indicated that the gut microbiome tended to play a part in host niche competition between the two Apriona species. The gut microbiome of Apriona swainsoni had many enriched pathways that can help degrade plant toxic secondary compounds, including xenobiotic biodegradation and metabolism, terpenoid and polyketide metabolism, and secondary metabolite biosynthesis. Meanwhile, A. swainsoni hosted a much greater variety of microorganisms and had more viable bacteria than A. germari. We conclude that gut microbes may influence the coevolution of herbivores and host plants. Gut bacteria may not only serve to boost nutritional relationships, but may also play an important role in insect food niche competition.

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We thank Wang Y. for helping with longhorn beetle collection, Prof. J. P. S. for valuable discussions. S. K. Z., Y. W. contributed fieldwork. S. K. Z., Y. W. and Z. K. L. performed the laboratory experiments and analyzed the data. X. D. Z. and J. H. H. coordinated the study and participated in conceptual design and manuscript preparation. S. K. Z., W.Y. performed most of the work for conceptual design and manuscript preparation. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work was supported by the Cooperation Project of Zhejiang Province and Chinese Academy of Forestry (Grant No. 2020SY08).

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Correspondence to Xu-Dong Zhou or Jun-Hao Huang.

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Zhang, SK., Wang, Y., Li, ZK. et al. Two Apriona Species Sharing a Host Niche Have Different Gut Microbiome Diversity. Microb Ecol (2021).

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  • Gut microbiome
  • Apriona
  • Niche competing
  • Secondary metabolic compounds
  • Niche adaptation