Camponotus is the second largest ant genus and known to harbor the primary endosymbiotic bacteria of the genus Blochmannia. However, little is known about the effect of diet and environment changes on the gut bacterial communities of these ants. We investigated the intestinal bacterial communities in the lab-raised and field-collected ants of Camponotus fragilis which is found in the southwestern United States and northern reaches of Mexico. We determined the difference of gut bacterial composition and distribution among the crop, midgut, and hindgut of the two types of colonies. Number of bacterial species varied with the methods of detection and the source of the ants. Lab-raised ants yielded 12 and 11 species using classical microbial culture methods and small-subunit rRNA genes (16S rRNAs) polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment-length polymorphism analysis, respectively. Field-collected ants yielded just 4 and 1-3 species using the same methods. Most gut bacterial species from the lab-raised ants were unevenly distributed among the crop, midgut, and hindgut, and each section had its own dominant bacterial species. Acetobacter was the prominent bacteria group in crop, accounting for about 55 % of the crop clone library. Blochmannia was the dominant species in midgut, nearly reaching 90 % of the midgut clone library. Pseudomonas aeruginosa dominated the hindgut, accounting for over 98 % of the hindgut clone library. P. aeruginosa was the only species common to all three sections. A comparison between lab-raised and field-collected ants, and comparison with other species, shows that gut bacterial communities vary with local environment and diet. The bacterial species identified here were most likely commensals with little effect on their hosts or mild pathogens deleterious to colony health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology