Insects generally cannot synthesize eight B vitamins that function as co-enzymes in various required enzymatic reactions. Most insects derive their B vitamin requirements from the diet, microbial symbionts, or a combination of these complementary sources. Exceptionally, the genomes of a few insects bear genes in vitamin B5 (pantothenate) and B7 (biotin) synthesis, horizontally acquired from bacteria. Biomarkers of B vitamin deficiency (e.g. vitamin titers, activity of vitamin-dependent enzymes) offer routes to investigate the incidence and the physiological and fitness consequences of B vitamin deficiency in laboratory and field populations of insects.
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