We report the isolation and identification of seven bacterial strains and one fungal strain from dead and diseased Scapteriscus borellii mole crickets collected from a golf course in southern California. Using 16S and 18S rRNA gene sequence analysis we identified the microbes as Serratia marcescens (red), S. marcescens (white), S. marcescens (purple), Achromobacter xylosoxidans, Chryseobacterium sp., Ochrobactrum anthropi, Tsukamurella tryosinosolvens, and Beauveria bassiana. We performed a dose response curve for each of these cricket-associated microbial strains (except T. tryosinosolvens) and two other strains of S. marcescens (DB1140 and ATCC 13880). We found that all of these microbes except O. anthropi were highly pathogenic to D. melanogaster compared to the other strains of S. marcescens. Injecting the mole cricket associated strains of Serratia into flies killed all infected flies in ≤24h. For all other strains, the median time to death of injected flies varied in a dose-dependent manner. In vivo growth assessments of these microbes suggested that the host immune system was quickly overcome. We used disease tolerance curves to better understand the host-microbe interactions. Further studies are necessary to understand in mechanistic detail the virulence mechanisms of these mole cricket associated microbes and how this association may have influenced the evolution of mole cricket immunity.
Keywords: Beauveria; Environmental microbiology; Mole crickets; Scapteriscus borellii; Serratia.
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