Environmental and host factors affect bacterial community structure in the mosquito gut

Sofia Bertoloni Meli, a student from Indiana University, worked with Dr. Michael Strand and Kerri Coon to studied the microbial community found in the gut of mosquitoes.

Abstract: Insects host many essential microbial symbionts. The bacteria in mosquito guts are important for development, nutrient acquisition, and reproduction. Developing mosquito larvae acquire their gut bacterial community (microbiota) from the aquatic environment they live in. However, little is known about the factors influencing the abundance of specific community members in the larval gut. Here, we investigated the contribution of host factors in shaping mosquito gut microbiota. We used experimental studies to manipulate the community present in the environment of individual and cohabitating mosquito species. Quantitative analysis of community structure in mosquito larvae identified species-specific bacterial associations that were robust to changes in the environment. Overall, our results indicate that both environmental and host factors affect bacterial community structure in mosquitoes, and reveal the potential importance of incorporating host phylogenetic history into our understanding of gut microbial diversity.


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