Advertisement

Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 719–729 | Cite as

Differences Among Antimicrobial Properties of Carrion Beetle Secretions Reflect Phylogeny and Ecology

  • W. Wyatt HobackEmail author
  • Andrew A. Bishop
  • Jeremy Kroemer
  • Joanne Scalzitti
  • Julie J. Shaffer
Article

Abstract

Carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) consist of two subfamilies in North America. Members of the Silphinae arrive at carcasses during the midstage of decay and their larvae feed on developing maggots, while members of the Nicrophorinae bury and tend carcasses upon which their developing larvae feed. The Nicrophorinae maintain the condition of the carcass by applying oral and anal secretions that reduce carcass decay apparently through bacterial inhibition, although quantification has not been made. We hypothesized that enzymes in the oral and anal secretions of the subfamily Nicrophorinae would inhibit bacterial growth, while secretions from the subfamily Silphinae would not. The secretions were assayed for inhibitory effects with a Microtox Analyzer that monitors the decrease in bioluminescence from the bacterium Vibrio fischerii. We found a significant difference of bioluminescence in the control compared to secretions of 8 out of 10 tested Nicrophorinae (with oral secretions being most active), while only anal secretions from Necrodes surinimensis of the Siphinae significantly reduced bacterial survival. These data follow the known phylogenic relationship in which Necrodes is the closest genus to the Nicrophorinae. The two species of Nicrophorinae, which did not show significant reductions in bacterial growth, differ ecologically from the others. Thus, the presence of antimicrobial compounds in most Nicrophorinae secretions, but not in most other Silphinae, represents an adaptation to preserve the buried carcass.

Nicrophorus burying beetle antimicrobial carrion beetle Silphidae 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Anderson, R. S. and Peck, S. B. 1985. The carrion beetles of Canada and Alaska. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada, Part 13. Agriculture Canada, Canada, 121 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Bedick, J. C., Ratcliffe, B. C., Hoback, W. W., and Higley, L. G. 1999. Distribution, ecology and population dynamics of the american burying beetle Nicrophorus americanus Olivier (Coleoptera: Silphidae) in south-central Nebraska. J. Insect Conserv. 3:171–181.Google Scholar
  3. Berdela, G., Lustigman, B., and Shubeck, P. P. 1994. A list of bacteria flora residing in the mid-and hindgut regions of six species of carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae). Entomol. News 105:47–58.Google Scholar
  4. Bishop, A. A. 2001. Niche segregation, carcass preparation, and the effects of land management on the ecology of carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) in Kearney County, Nebraska. M.S. Thesis, University of Nebraska at Kearney, 115 pp.Google Scholar
  5. Bishop, A. A., Hoback, W. W., Albrecht, M., and Skinner, K. M. 2002. GIS reveals niche partitioning by soil texture among carrion beetles. Trans. GIS 6:457–470.Google Scholar
  6. Dobler, S. and Muller, J. K. 2000. Resolving phylogeny at the family level by mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase sequences: phylogeny of carrion beetles (Coleoptera, Silphidae). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 15:390–402.Google Scholar
  7. Eisner, T. and Meinwald, J. 1982. Defensive spray mechanism of silphid beetle (Necrodes surinamensis). Psyche 89:357–367.Google Scholar
  8. Freshney, I. 1994. A Manual of Basic Techniques: Culture of Animal Cells, 3rd edn. Wiley-Liss, New York, pp. 277–278.Google Scholar
  9. Hetru, C., Hoffmann, D., and Bulet, P. 1998. Antimicrobial peptides from insects, pp. 40–66, in P. T. Brey and D. Hultmark (eds.). Molecular Mechanisms of Immune Responses in Insects. Chapman and Hall, London.Google Scholar
  10. Lamberty, M., Zachary, D., Lanot, R., Bordereau, C., Robert, A., Hoffmann, J. A., and Bulet, P. 2001. Constitutive expression of a cysteine-rich antifungal and a linear antibacterial peptide in a termite insect. J. Biol. Chem. 276:4085–4092.Google Scholar
  11. Milne, L. J. and Milne, M. 1976. The social behavior of burying beetles. Sci. Am. 235:84–89.Google Scholar
  12. Ohkawara, K., Suzuki, S., and Katakuba, H. 1998. Competitive interaction and niche differentiation among burying beetles (Silphidae: Nicrophorus) in Northern Japan. Entomol. Sci. 1:551–559.Google Scholar
  13. Rana, R. L., Hoback, W. W., Rahim, N. A. A., Bedick, J., and Stanley, D. W. 1997. Pre-oral digestion: a phospholipase A2 associated with oral secretions in adult burying beetles, Nicrophorus marginatus. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B 118:375–380.Google Scholar
  14. Ratcliffe, B. C. 1972. The natural history of Necrodes surinamensis (Fabr.) (Coleoptera: Silphidae). Trans. Am. Entol. Soc. 98:359–410.Google Scholar
  15. Ratcliffe, B. C. 1996. The Carrion Beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) of Nebraska. University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln, NE. pp. 43–54.Google Scholar
  16. Scott, M. 1998. The ecology and behavior of burying beetles. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 43:595–618.Google Scholar
  17. Solter, L. F., Lustigman, B., and Shubeck, P. P. 1989. Survey of medically important true bacteria found associated with carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae). J. Med. Entol. 26:354–359.Google Scholar
  18. Suzuki, S. 1999. Does carrion-burial by Nicrophorus vespilloides (Silphidae: Coleoptera) prevent discovery by other burying beetles? Entol. Sci. 2:205–208.Google Scholar
  19. Szalanski, A. L., Sikes, D. S., Bischof, R., and Fritz, M. 2000. Population genetics and phylogenetics of the endangered American burying beetle, Nicrophorus americanus (Coleoptera: Silphidae). Ann. Entol. Soc. 93:589–594.Google Scholar
  20. Trumbo, S. T. 1994. Interspecific competition, brood parasitism, and the evolution of biparental cooperation in burying beetles. Oikos 69:241–249.Google Scholar
  21. Zasloff, M. 2002. Antimicrobial peptides of multicellular organisms. Nature 415:389–395.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Wyatt Hoback
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew A. Bishop
    • 1
  • Jeremy Kroemer
    • 1
  • Joanne Scalzitti
    • 2
  • Julie J. Shaffer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Nebraska at KearneyKearneyUSA
  2. 2.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of Texas Health Science Center-San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

Personalised recommendations