Most Dominant Roles of Insect Gut Bacteria: Digestion, Detoxification, or Essential Nutrient Provision?

Microbiome. 2020 Mar 16;8(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s40168-020-00823-y.


Background: The insect gut microbiota has been shown to contribute to the host's digestion, detoxification, development, pathogen resistance, and physiology. However, there is poor information about the ranking of these roles. Most of these results were obtained with cultivable bacteria, whereas the bacterial physiology may be different between free-living and midgut-colonizing bacteria. In this study, we provided both proteomic and genomic evidence on the ranking of the roles of gut bacteria by investigating the anal droplets from a weevil, Cryptorhynchus lapathi.

Results: The gut lumen and the anal droplets showed qualitatively and quantitatively different subsets of bacterial communities. The results of 16S rRNA sequencing showed that the gut lumen is dominated by Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, whereas the anal droplets are dominated by Proteobacteria. From the anal droplets, enzymes involved in 31 basic roles that belong to 7 super roles were identified by Q-TOF MS. The cooperation between the weevil and its gut bacteria was determined by reconstructing community pathway maps, which are defined in this study. A score was used to rank the gut bacterial roles. The results from the proteomic data indicate that the most dominant role of gut bacteria is amino acid biosynthesis, followed by protein digestion, energy metabolism, vitamin biosynthesis, lipid digestion, plant secondary metabolite (PSM) degradation, and carbohydrate digestion, while the order from the genomic data is amino acid biosynthesis, vitamin biosynthesis, lipid digestion, energy metabolism, protein digestion, PSM degradation, and carbohydrate digestion. The PCA results showed that the gut bacteria form functional groups from the point of view of either the basic role or super role, and the MFA results showed that there are functional variations among gut bacteria. In addition, the variations between the proteomic and genomic data, analyzed with the HMFA method from the point of view of either the bacterial community or individual bacterial species, are presented.

Conclusion: The most dominant role of gut bacteria is essential nutrient provisioning, followed by digestion and detoxification. The weevil plays a pioneering role in diet digestion and mainly digests macromolecules into smaller molecules which are then mainly digested by gut bacteria.

Keywords: Anal secretion; Community pathway maps; Intestine bacterial community; Multiple factor analysis; Poplar-and-willow borer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't