3 years ago

Symbiont dynamics and strain diversity in the defensive mutualism between Lagria beetles and Burkholderia

Martin Kaltenpoth, Laura V. Flórez
Defensive mutualisms are often facultative in nature, and their evolutionary dynamics can be shaped by changes in local antagonist communities or arms races with coevolving antagonists. Under these conditions, selection may favour hosts that flexibly acquire symbionts producing compounds with bioactivity against current antagonists. Here, we study the prevalence, dynamics and strain diversity of Burkholderia gladioli bacteria in Lagria beetles, a recently described protective symbiosis involving vertical transmission and antifungal defense for the host eggs. In Lagria hirta, we investigate the fate of the bacteria during the host life cycle. Despite a transmission route relying solely on the females, the bacteria are present in both sexes during the larval stage, suggesting a potentially multifaceted defensive role. In L. hirta and L. villosa adults, culture-dependent and -independent techniques revealed that individual beetles harbour diverse Burkholderia strains from at least two different phylogenetic clades, yet all closely related to free-living B. gladioli. Interestingly, rearing the beetles in the laboratory strongly impacted symbiont strain profiles in both beetle species. Our findings highlight the dynamic nature of the B. gladioli-Lagria symbiosis and present this as a valuable system for studying multiple strain coinfections, as well as the evolutionary and ecological factors regulating defensive symbiosis.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13868

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