Metagenomic sequencing of diamondback moth gut microbiome unveils key holobiont adaptations for herbivory

Xiaofeng Xia, Geoffrey Gurr, Liette Vasseur, Dandan Zheng, Huanzi Zhong, Bingcai Qin, Junhan Lin, Yue Wang, Fengqin Song, Yong Li, Hailan Lin, Minsheng You

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Herbivore specialists adapt to feed on a specific group of host plants by evolving various mechanisms to respond to plant defenses. Insects also possess complex gut microbiotas but their potential role in adaptation is poorly understood. Our previous study of the genome of diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, revealed an intrinsic capacity to detoxify plant defense compounds, which is an important factor in its success as a pest. Here we expand on that work with a complete taxonomic and functional profile of the P. xylostella gut microbiota obtained by metagenomic sequencing. Gene enrichment in the metagenome, accompanied by functional identification, revealed an important role of specific gut bacteria in the breakdown of plant cell walls, detoxification of plant phenolics, and synthesis of amino acids. Microbes participating in these pathways mainly belonged to three highly abundant bacteria: Enterobacter cloacae, Enterobacter asburiae, and Carnobacterium maltaromaticum. Results show that while the gut microbial community may be complex, a small number of functionally active species can be disproportionally important. The presence of specific enzymes in the microbiota community, such as supporting amino acid synthesis, digestion and detoxification functions, demonstrates the beneficial interactions between P. xylostella and its gut microbiota. These interactions can be potential targets for manipulation to provide novel pest management approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number663
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue number663
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

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