The coreid bug Thasus neocalifornicus Brailovsky and Barrera, commonly known as the giant mesquite bug, is a ubiquitous insect of the southwestern United States. Both nymphs and adults are often found aggregated on mesquite trees (Prosopis spp.: Fabaceae) feeding on seedpods and plant sap. We characterized the indigenous bacterial populations of nymphs and adults of this species by using molecular and phylogenetic techniques and culturing methods. Results show that this insect's bacterial gut community has a limited diversity dominated by Burkholderia associates. Phylogenetic analysis by using 16s rRNA sequences suggests that these β-Proteobacteria are closely related to those symbionts obtained from other heteropteran midgut microbial communities but not to Burkholderia symbionts associated with other insect orders. These bacteria were absent from the eggs and were not found in all younger nymphs, suggesting that they are acquired after the insects have hatched. Rearing experiments of nymphs with potentially Burkholderia contaminated soil suggested that if this symbiont is not acquired, giant mesquite bugs experience higher mortality. Egg, whole-body DNA extractions of younger nymphs, and midgut DNA extractions of fifth-instar nymphs and adults also revealed the presence of α-Proteobacteria from the Wolbachia genus. However, this bacterium was also present in reproductive organs of adults, indicating that this symbiont is not specific to the gut.
- gut symbiont
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science