Plant-feeding insects have been recently found to use microbes to manipulate host plant physiology and morphology. Gall midges are one of the largest groups of insects that manipulate host plants extensively. Hessian fly (HF, Mayetiola destructor) is an important pest of wheat and a model system for studying gall midges. To examine the role of bacteria in parasitism, a systematic analysis of bacteria associated with HF was performed for the first time. Diverse bacteria were found in different developmental HF stages. Fluorescent in situhybridization detected a bacteriocyte-like structure in developing eggs. Bacterial DNA was also detected in eggs by PCR using primers targeted to different bacterial groups. These results indicated that HF hosted different types of bacteria that were maternally transmitted to the next generation. Eliminating bacteria from the insect with antibiotics resulted in high mortality of HF larvae, indicating that symbiotic bacteria are essential for the insect to survive on wheat seedlings. A preliminary survey identified various types of bacteria associated with different HF stages, including the genera Enterobacter, Pantoea, Stenotrophomonas, Pseudomonas,Bacillus, Ochrobactrum, Acinetobacter, Alcaligenes, Nitrosomonas, Arcanobacterium,Microbacterium, Paenibacillus, and Klebsiella. Similar bacteria were also found specifically in HF-infested susceptible wheat, suggesting that HF larvae had either transmitted bacteria into plant tissue or brought secondary infection of bacteria to the wheat host. The bacteria associated with wheat seedlings may play an essential role in the wheat-HF interaction.


This is the publisher pdf of Bansal R, Hulbert S, Schemerhorn B, Reese JC, Whitworth RJ, et al. (2011) Hessian Fly-Associated Bacteria: Transmission, Essentiality, and Composition. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23170. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023170 and is available at: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023170.

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