The polyphagous eri silk moth, Samia ricini, is associated with various symbiotic gut bacteria believed to provide several benefits to the host. The larvae of S. ricini were subjected to isolation of gut bacteria using culture-dependent 16S rRNA generic characterization, metagenomics analysis and qualitative enzymatic assays. Sixty culturable aerobic gut bacterial isolates comprising Firmicutes (54%) and Proteobacteria (46%); and twelve culturable facultative anaerobic bacteria comprising Proteobacteria (92%) and Firmicutes (8%) were identified inhabiting the gut of S. ricini. The results of metagenomics analysis revealed the presence of a diverse community of both culturable and un-culturable gut bacteria belonging to Proteobacteria (60%) and Firmicutes (20%) associated with seven orders. An analysis of the results of culturable isolation indicates that these bacterial isolates inhabited all the three compartments of the gut. Investigation on persistence of bacteria coupled with metagenomics analysis of the fifth instar suggested that bacteria persist in the gut across the different instar stages. In addition, enzymatic assays indicated that 48 and 75% of culturable aerobic, and 75% of anaerobic gut bacterial isolates had cellulolytic, lipolytic and nitrate reductase activities, thus suggesting that they may be involved in food digestion and nutritional provision to the host. These bacterial isolates may be good sources for profiling novel genes and biomolecules for biotechnological application.
Keywords: Gut bacteria; developmental stages; eri silkworm; localization; metagenomics; persistence.