Saproxylic beetles play a crucial role in key processes occurring in forest ecosystems, and together with fungi contribute to the decomposition and mineralization of wood. Among this group are mycetophilic beetles which associate with wood-decaying fungi and use the fruiting body for nourishment and development. Therefore, their feeding strategy (especially in the case of fungivorous species) requires special digestive capabilities to take advantage of the nutritional value of fungal tissue. Although polypore-beetle associations have been investigated in numerous studies, detailed studies focusing on the microbiome associated with species feeding on fruiting bodies of polypores remain limited. Here we investigated the bacterial communities associated with larvae and adults of Bolitophagus reticulatus collected from Fomes fomentarius growing on two different host tree: beech (Fagus sp.) and birch (Betula sp.), respectively. Among 24 identified bacterial phyla, three were the most relatively abundant (Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes). Moreover, we tried to find unique patterns of bacteria abundances which could be correlated with the long-term field observation showing that the fruiting bodies of F. fomentarius, growing on birch are more inhabited by beetles than fruiting bodies of the same fungus species growing on beech. Biochemical analyses showed that the level of protease inhibitors and secondary metabolites in F. fomentarius is higher in healthy fruiting bodies than in the inhabited ones. However, tested microbiome samples primarily clustered by developmental stage of B. reticulatus and host tree did not appear to impact the taxonomic distribution of the communities. This observation was supported by statistical analyses.
Keywords: 16S rRNA gene; Bacterial community structure; Bolitophagus reticulatus; Fomes fomentarius; Next generation sequencing; Protease inhibitors; Saproxylic species; Secondary metabolites profiles.