Convergent bacterial microbiotas in the fungal agricultural systems of insects.
Bottom Line: The ability to cultivate food is an innovation that has produced some of the most successful ecological strategies on the planet.In this study, we show that diverse fungus-growing insects are associated with a common bacterial community composed of the same dominant members.Because of the similarities in the agricultural lifestyles of these insects, this is an example of convergence between both the life histories of the host insects and their symbiotic microbiota.
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Mentions: Here, we analyzed fungus-growing ants (Tribe: Attini), ambrosia beetles (Tribe: Xyleborini), and termites (subfamily: Macrotermitinae), which all engage in obligate fungal agriculture (32), as well as mountain and southern pine beetles (genus Dendroctonus), which, although lacking many of the true agricultural characteristics of the other insects, also associate with mutualistic fungi that they consume for food (34, 40). Our samples included three insect orders and spanned a considerable portion of the global distribution of these insect-fungal symbioses (Fig. 1A and B; see Table S1 in the supplemental material). Due to the independent origins of these nutritional fungal symbioses across distantly related host lineages collected from across the globe, our analyses of their microbiotas provides a unique opportunity to assess the extent to which the similarity of their ecological niches has influenced the structure of their associated microbial communities. To this end, we sought to provide a fine-scale comparison of the composition of bacterial communities associated with these insect fungal symbioses through sequencing of 18 16S amplicon libraries comprising a total of 136,400 quality-filtered sequences (minimum length of 200 bp) and 18 community metagenomes comprising a total of 6.8 Gbp of raw sequence data from which we reconstructed 37 composite genomes of dominant community members (see Tables S2 and S3).