An Y, Braga MP, Garcia SL, Grudzinska-Sterno M, Hambäck PA
Microb. Ecol. 86 (4) 2477-2487 [2023-11-00; online 2023-06-14]
Gut microbes play important roles for their hosts. Previous studies suggest that host-microbial systems can form long-term associations over evolutionary time and the dynamic changes of the intestinal system may represent major driving forces and contribute to insect dietary diversification and speciation. Our study system includes a set of six closely related leaf beetle species (Galerucella spp.) and our study aims to separate the roles of host phylogeny and ecology in determining the gut microbial community and to identify eventual relationship between host insects and gut bacteria. We collected adult beetles from their respective host plants and quantified their microbial community using 16S rRNA sequencing. The results showed that the gut bacteria community composition was structured by host beetle phylogeny, where more or less host-specific gut bacteria interact with the different Galerucella species. For example, the endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia was found almost exclusively in G. nymphaea and G. sagittariae. Diversity indicators also suggested that α- and β-diversities of gut bacteria communities varied among host beetle species. Overall, our results suggest a phylogenetically controlled co-occurrence pattern between the six closely related Galerucella beetles and their gut bacteria, indicating the potential of co-evolutionary processes occurring between hosts and their gut bacterial communities.