Microorganisms in the gut of beetles: evidence from molecular cloning

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We have regularly cultured yeasts from the gut of certain beetles in our ongoing research. In this study cloned PCR products amplified from the gut contents of certain mushroom-feeding and wood-ingesting beetles in four families (Erotylidae, Tenebrionidae, Ciidae, and Passalidae) were sequenced and compared with culture results. Cultural techniques detected some yeasts present in the gut of the beetles, including a Pichia stipitis-like yeast associated with wood-ingesting passalid beetles. Clone sequences similar to several ascomycete yeasts and Malassezia restricta, a fastidious basidiomycetous yeast requiring special growth media, however, were not detected by culturing. Unexpectedly, phylogenetic analysis of additional clone sequences discovered from passalid beetles showed similarity to members of the Parabasalia, protists known from other wood-ingesting insects, termites, and wood roaches. Examination of all gut regions of living passalids, however, failed to reveal parabasalids, and it is possible that they were parasites in the gut tissue present in low numbers.

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Journal of invertebrate pathology

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