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Microbes are extensively associated with insects, playing key roles in insect defense, nutrition and reproduction. Most of the associations reported involve Proteobacteria. Despite the fact that Actinobacteria associated with insects were shown to produce antibiotic barriers against pathogens to the hosts or to their food and nutrients, there are few studies focusing on their association with insects. Thus, we surveyed the Actinobacteria diversity on a specific region of the midgut of seven species of stinkbugs (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) known to carry a diversity of symbiotically-associated Proteobacteria.
A total of 34 phylotypes were placed in 11 different Actinobacteria families. Dichelops melacanthus held the highest diversity with six actinobacteria families represented by nine phylotypes. Thyanta perditor (n=7), Edessa meditabunda (n=5), Loxa deducta (n=4) and Pellaea stictica (n=3) were all associated with three families. Piezodorus guildini (n=3) and Nezara viridula (n=3) had the lowest diversity, being associated with two (Propionibacteriaceae and Mycobacteriaceae) and one (Streptomyceataceae) families, respectively. Corynebacteriaceae and Mycobacteriaceae were the most common families with phylotypes from three different insect species each one.
Many phylotypes shared a low 16S rRNA gene similarity with their closest type strains and formed new phyletic lines on the periphery of several genera. This is a strong indicative that stinkbug caeca can harbor new species of actinobacteria, which might be derived from specific associations with the species of stinkbugs studied. Although the well-known role of actinobacteria as a source of biomolecules, the ecological features of these symbionts on the stinkbugs biology remain unknown.