The important role that locust gut bacteria play in their host biology is well accepted. Among other roles, gut bacteria are suggested to be involved in the locust swarming phenomenon. In addition, in many insect orders, the reproductive system is reported to serve as a vector for trans-generation bacterial inoculation. Knowledge of the bacterial composition of the locust reproductive tract is, however, practically absent. Here we characterized the reproductive system bacterial composition of gregarious and solitary females. We investigated its temporal dynamics and how it interacts with the locust phase, by comparative sampling and 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. We revealed that the bacterial composition of the locust female reproductive tract is mostly constructed of three core genera: Micrococcus, Acinetobacter and Staphylococcus. While solitary females maintained a consistent bacterial composition, in the gregarious phase this consortium demonstrated large temporal shifts, mostly manifested by Brevibacterium blooms. These data are in accord with our previous report on the dynamics of locust hindgut bacterial microbiota, further indicating that locust endosymbionts are affected by their host population density. These newly understood dynamics may have implications beyond their contribution to our knowledge of locust ecology, as aggregation and mass migration are prevalent phenomena across many migrating animals.
Keywords: Schistocerca gregaria; bacterial symbionts; insect bacteria interaction; locust; locust bacteria; reproductive tract.
© FEMS 2020.