Community structure of gut microbes in Busseola fusca (Lepidoptera : Noctuidae)
Bt-maize is engineered to express insecticidal toxins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis and has been shown to be very effective against pests like Busseola fusca.However, resistance of this pest against Bt-maize has developed and spread throughout South Africa. This study was inspired by the lack of knowledge over the microorganisms associated with the gut of these insects as they play a vital role in insect growth and development. Microbial-derived enzymes may have a role during an insect's adaption in different environmental conditions and to new diets. Previous studies suggest (1) that gut bacteria are required for B. thuringiensis-induced mortality in most Lepidoptera species and (2) that the toxicity of B. thuringiensis depends on microbial community interactions within the gut. The aim of this study was to determine the microbial diversity present in the midgut of B. fusca larvae occurring in maize. Busseola fusca larvae were collected from 30 sites throughout South Africa and dissected to collect their midgut contents. Serial dilutions were made of the contents and spread plated onto nutrient agar after which morphotypes were identified. One-hundred and five morphotypes were identified; DNA were extracted from the selected morphotypes and subjected to PCR analysis followed by secquencing. Sequencing results revealed the dominance of Enterococcus spp., specifically Enterococcus casseliflavus and Enterococcus gallinarum, Klebsiella spp., espesially Klebsiella pneumoniae and Klebsiella oxytoca and Bacillus spp. such as .B. thuringiensis and B. subtilis. Other organisms isolated, included Achromobacter spp., Brevudimonas spp., Caulobacter spp., Enterobacter spp., Halomonas spp., Ochrobactrum spp., Pantoea spp., Pseudomonas spp., Serratia spp., Stenotrophomonas spp., Arthrobacter spp., Brevibacterium spp., Leucobacter spp., Microbacterium spp., Planomicrobium spp. and Staphylococcus spp. The microbial diversity of larvae collected at the respective sampling sites were determined with the Shannon diversity index. The data were compared to several factors regarding the sampling sites. No significant differences were observed between the microbial diversities isolated at the respective sites. This may imply that the microbial community within B. fusca larvae are relative consistent throughout the maize production area. It is important to understand the distribution and structure of gut microbial communities within insects and whether the gut community is influenced by the geographical distribution of the insects. A better understanding of the distribution of the insects and community structure of their gut microbiota may aid in the development of better insect control strategies.