Monday, December 10, 2007 - 8:53 AM

The vertically transmitted fungal and bacterial communities in a wasp parasitoid and its cockroach host

Cara M. Gibson, and Martha S. Hunter, University of Arizona, Entomology, 410 Forbes Building, Tucson, AZ

Currently, there is tremendous interest in understanding both the diversity of insect-associated microbes and the effects that they exert on their hosts. Despite frequent and intimate associations with insects, fungi have received comparatively little attention. Insects may be infected with multiple microbes, including simultaneous infection with both fungal and bacterial symbionts. Using both molecular and culture-based methods, I examined the vertically transmitted fungal and bacterial symbiont communities of a particular parasitoid wasp, Comperia merceti (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae), and the blattellid cockroach it parasitizes, Supella longipalpa. Cloning data (28S rDNA) revealed that one fungus, a yeast in the Ascomycota: Saccharomycetales, is shared by the wasp and its cockroach host. Supella longipalpa has an additional fungal symbiont, a pezizomycete. Using general 16S rDNA primers, there is no evidence of any bacterial associates in C. merceti, however S. longipalpa has both Blattabacterium sp. and Wolbachia sp. The characterization of the microbial associates in this system is the first step in understanding symbiont contributions to this host-parasitoid interaction.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Encyrtidae Comperia merceti
Species 2: Blattaria Blatellidae Supella longipalpa (brownbanded cockroach)