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A Molecular Survey of the Wireworm Microbiome and its Variation among Habitats

Kabaluk, T., Li-Leger, E. 2017. A Molecular Survey of the Wireworm Microbiome and its Variation among Habitats. International Congress on Invertebrate Pathology and Microbial Control and 50th Annual Meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology. La Jolla, August 13-17, 2017.


Wireworms are a serious subterranean larval pest of agricultural crops for which entomopathogenic fungi are being developed and commercialized as pest control agents. How bacteria interact with fungal pathogens needs elucidation as interactions between microbes and their hosts can have major impacts on host behavior and fitness. DNA sequencing and computational biology have allowed for comprehensive genetic surveys of an organism’s microbiome and can be done with relative ease, revealing taxa that might not be apparent from traditional isolation techniques such as plating. Identifying the bacteria associated with wireworms is the first step toward elucidating organismal relationships which may be invaluable for creating more effective pest control strategies. The bacterial microbiome from five separate wireworm (Agriotes obscurus and A. lineatus) populations (sites with different habitats) was sequenced, revealing 609 operational taxonomic units (OTU) among the total of individuals. The most common OTUs at each site exhibited a diverse range of bacterial groups, with the proportions of 40 genera being significantly different among the five collection sites. Principle coordinate analysis revealed clustering of two sites, indicating a difference in the composition of taxa and suggesting that habitat can influence a microbiome’s members. The implications this may have on wireworm microbial control is under investigation, with symbiosis / disease resistance associated with certain taxa being an area of interest.

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