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Influence of host phylogeny, geographical location and seed harvesting diet on the bacterial community of globally distributed Pheidole ants.


ABSTRACT: The presence of symbiotic relationships between organisms is a common phenomenon found across the tree of life. In particular, the association of bacterial symbionts with ants is an active area of study. This close relationship between ants and microbes can significantly impact host biology and is also considered one of the driving forces in ant evolution and diversification. Diet flexibility of ants may explain the evolutionary success of the group, which may be achieved by the presence of endosymbionts that aid in nutrition acquisition from a variety of food sources. With more than 1,140 species, ants from the genus Pheidole have a worldwide distribution and an important role in harvesting seeds; this behavior is believed to be a possible key innovation leading to the diversification of this group. This is the first study to investigate the bacterial community associated with Pheidole using next generation sequencing (NGS) to explore the influences of host phylogeny, geographic location and food preference in shaping the microbial community. In addition, we explore if there are any microbiota signatures related to granivory. We identified Proteobacteria and Firmicutes as the major phyla associated with these ants. The core microbiome in Pheidole (those found in >50% of all samples) was composed of 14 ASVs and the most prevalent are family Burkholderiaceae and the genera Acinetobacter, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Cloacibacterium and Ralstonia. We found that geographical location and food resource may influence the bacterial community of Pheidole ants. These results demonstrate that Pheidole has a relatively stable microbiota across species, which suggests the bacterial community may serve a generalized function in this group.

SUBMITTER: Martins C 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7006521 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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