Differential Susceptibility of Whitefly-Associated Bacteria to Antibiotic as Revealed by Metagenomics Analysis

Infect Genet Evol. 2018 Sep;63:24-29. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2018.04.024. Epub 2018 Apr 24.


Background: Recent reports have suggested that different symbionts of Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) have differential susceptibility to antibiotic treatment. Changes in the community structure of B. tabaci-associated bacterial microbiota (BABM) following antibiotic treatment, however, remain poorly understood, although increasing numbers of B. tabaci-associated bacteria have been reported in recent years.

Methodology and results: The BABM of male or female B. tabaci Q (also known as B. tabaci MED species) were analyzed after being fed on artificial diet containing the antibiotic rifampicin and compared with untreated controls. The bacterial 16S rDNA gene amplicon metagenomic sequencing method was used in the analyses. The results showed that the BABM in male and female adults have different characteristics, and that the community structure of the BABM changes drastically following antibiotic treatment. Further analysis of the endosymbionts in B. tabaci showed that the relative abundance of the primary endosymbiont, Portiera, increased in females but was unchanged in male whiteflies, while that of the secondary endosymbiont, Hamiltonella, significantly decreased in both male and female whiteflies. The secondary endosymbionts, Cardinium and Rickettsia, were apparently not affected in either male or female whiteflies.

Conclusions: The community structure of BABM can be drastically altered following treatment with the antibiotic, rifampicin. This may be due to different antibiotic susceptibilities among the bacterial species. These results provide valuable insights into the innate differences in the BABM of male and female whiteflies, as well as structural changes that occur in the BABM in response to exposure to an antibiotic.

Keywords: 16S rDNA gene; BABM; Bemisia tabaci; Endosymbionts; Rifampicin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Hemiptera / microbiology*
  • Metagenomics*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents