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Review
, 100 (4), 1567-1577

Potential Applications of Insect Symbionts in Biotechnology

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Review

Potential Applications of Insect Symbionts in Biotechnology

Aileen Berasategui et al. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol.

Abstract

Symbiotic interactions between insects and microorganisms are widespread in nature and are often the source of ecological innovations. In addition to supplementing their host with essential nutrients, microbial symbionts can produce enzymes that help degrade their food source as well as small molecules that defend against pathogens, parasites, and predators. As such, the study of insect ecology and symbiosis represents an important source of chemical compounds and enzymes with potential biotechnological value. In addition, the knowledge on insect symbiosis can provide novel avenues for the control of agricultural pest insects and vectors of human diseases, through targeted manipulation of the symbionts or the host-symbiont associations. Here, we discuss different insect-microbe interactions that can be exploited for insect pest and human disease control, as well as in human medicine and industrial processes. Our aim is to raise awareness that insect symbionts can be interesting sources of biotechnological applications and that knowledge on insect ecology can guide targeted efforts to discover microorganisms of applied value.

Keywords: Biotechnology; Incompatible insect technique; Mutualism; Paratransgenesis; Symbiosis.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Biotechnological applications of targeting microbial symbionts in insects located (a) in specialized compartments (e.g., bacteriomes), (b) in the gut of the insect, (c) in insect tissues outside the gut (e.g., fat body), or (d) on the insect’s cuticle. Targeting these symbiotic interactions can have broad applications in controlling populations of insect pests, increasing the survival of beneficial insects, and utilizing the symbionts for industrially important processes

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