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Bugs need symbiotic bacteria to exploit plant seeds
Date:1/9/2013

Surprisingly, exchanging bacterial communities between firebugs and cotton stainers also resulted in reduced fitness of both species, indicating that despite their similarity the symbioses are highly specific.

The next important steps will be to find out whether the bacterial symbionts provide essential nutrients to their hosts that are lacking in the seed diet, or whether they help by detoxifying the noxious defensive chemicals of the plant. "Firebugs and cotton stainers are ideal model systems to address fundamental questions in insect symbiosis, because we can manipulate and exchange their microbial communities and then measure the fitness of the hosts," explains Martin Kaltenpoth, head of the Max Planck Research Group Insect Symbiosis. "Detailed knowledge on how insects interact with microbial symbionts is essential for an understanding of insect physiology, ecology, and evolution."

In the case of agricultural pest insects like the cotton stainers, this knowledge may also provide novel leads for biological control. [MK]


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Contact: Martin Kaltenpoth
mkaltenpoth@ice.mpg.de
49-364-157-1800
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

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