Previous inventories of the
diversity of lepidopteran symbionts have been limited to Eubacteria. We conducted the first comprehensive
microbial survey of a lepidopteran insect, Calyptra thalictri
Borkhausen (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
primers for 16S rRNA sequences for Eubacteria, and primers for Archaea, Fungi,
Microsporidia, Wolbachia, and
yeast-like organisms. In an effort
to better understand the biology and vector capabilities of vampire moths, the
survey was conducted using the head and abdomens separately of adult males of
the fruit-piercing and blood-feeding moth C. thalictri. High-fidelity
PCR and subsequent DNA analyses indicated that at least five microorganisms
belonging to the alpha, beta, and gamma-Proteobacteria are associated with C.
thalictri. Two eubacterial sequences, related to a Klebsiella sp. and a Sinorhizobium sp., were detected in the abdomens of all
individuals sampled, and three additional sequences, two related to species in
the genus Alcaligenes, and one
related to a Rhizobium sp., were
found in some of the abdominal samples, suggesting all five could be gut
symbionts. No Archaea, Fungi,
Microsporidia, Wolbachia, or
yeast-like organisms were detected.
These results document the first case of endosymbiotic bacteria detected
in a fruit-piercing and blood-feeding moth. The possible role these microorganisms play in the biology
of C. thalictri is discussed.