A bacterial filter protects and structures the gut microbiome of an insect

Michele Caroline Lanan, Pedro Augusto Pos Rodrigues, Al Agellon, Patricia Jansma, Diana Esther Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

Associations with symbionts within the gut lumen of hosts are particularly prone to disruption due to the constant influx of ingested food and non-symbiotic microbes, yet we know little about how partner fidelity is maintained. Here we describe for the first time the existence of a gut morphological filter capable of protecting an animal gut microbiome from disruption. The proventriculus, a valve located between the crop and midgut of insects, functions as a micro-pore filter in the Sonoran Desert turtle ant (Cephalotes rohweri), blocking the entry of bacteria and particles ≥0.2 μm into the midgut and hindgut while allowing passage of dissolved nutrients. Initial establishment of symbiotic gut bacteria occurs within the first few hours after pupation via oral-rectal trophallaxis, before the proventricular filter develops. Cephalotes ants are remarkable for having maintained a consistent core gut microbiome over evolutionary time and this partner fidelity is likely enabled by the proventricular filtering mechanism. In addition, the structure and function of the cephalotine proventriculus offers a new perspective on organismal resistance to pathogenic microbes, structuring of gut microbial communities, and development and maintenance of host-microbe fidelity both during the animal life cycle and over evolutionary time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1866-1876
Number of pages11
JournalISME Journal
Volume10
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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