Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata (2013) 147, 160-166

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Nathan Woodbury, Margo Moore and Gerhard Gries (2013)
Horizontal transmission of the microbial symbionts Enterobacter cloacae and Mycotypha microspora to their firebrat host
Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 147 (2), 160-166
Abstract: The firebrat, Thermobia domestica (Packard) (Thysanura: Lepismatidae), aggregates in response to the faeces of conspecifics. This aggregation response is mediated by two microbial symbionts, the bacterium Enterobacter cloacae (Jordan) Hormaeche and Edwards (Enterobacteriaceae) and the fungus Mycotypha microspora Fenner (Mucorales). Our objective was to determine how these microbes are transmitted between firebrats. We produced fluorescently labelled E. cloacae and M. microspora and presented them to firebrats. Firebrats consumed large quantities of these labelled microbes and deposited them with their faeces where they proliferated rapidly. Firebrats did not harbour E. cloacae or M. microspora within their ovarioles or eggs, and thus cannot transmit them transovarially. Instead, firebrats acquired them horizontally whenever they fed on microbe-contaminated material, such as faeces, faeces-contaminated paper, or egg surfaces. Firebrats moult throughout their life, and with each moult they shed the cuticular lining of their digestive tract and likely any microbes residing therein. Because firebrats remain in close contact and live in groups of mixed age and gender, newly moulted individuals can readily re-acquire E. cloacae or M. microspora from group members. This ensures the perpetuation of their microbial aggregation and arrestment signal.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Gerhard Gries

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Thermobia domestica