University of Oulu

Jackson R, Patapiou PA, Golding G, Helanterä H, Economou CK, Chapuisat M and Henry LM (2023) Evidence of phylosymbiosis in Formica ants. Front. Microbiol. 14:1044286.

Evidence of phylosymbiosis in Formica ants

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Author: Jackson, Raphaella1; Patapiou, Patapios A.1,2; Golding, Gemma1;
Organizations: 1School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom
2Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, United Kingdom
3Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, Hanko, Finland
5Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-07


Introduction: Insects share intimate relationships with microbes that play important roles in their biology. Yet our understanding of how host-bound microbial communities assemble and perpetuate over evolutionary time is limited. Ants host a wide range of microbes with diverse functions and are an emerging model for studying the evolution of insect microbiomes. Here, we ask whether phylogenetically related ant species have formed distinct and stable microbiomes.

Methods: To answer this question, we investigated the microbial communities associated with queens of 14 Formica species from five clades, using deep coverage 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing.

Results: We reveal that Formica species and clades harbor highly defined microbial communities that are dominated by four bacteria genera: Wolbachia, Lactobacillus, Liliensternia, and Spiroplasma. Our analysis reveals that the composition of Formica microbiomes mirrors the phylogeny of the host, i.e., phylosymbiosis, in that related hosts harbor more similar microbial communities. In addition, we find there are significant correlations between microbe co-occurrences.

Discussion: Our results demonstrate Formica ants carry microbial communities that recapitulate the phylogeny of their hosts. Our data suggests that the co-occurrence of different bacteria genera may at least in part be due to synergistic and antagonistic interactions between microbes. Additional factors potentially contributing to the phylosymbiotic signal are discussed, including host phylogenetic relatedness, host-microbe genetic compatibility, modes of transmission, and similarities in host ecologies (e.g., diets). Overall, our results support the growing body of evidence that microbial community composition closely depends on the phylogeny of their hosts, despite bacteria having diverse modes of transmission and localization within the host.

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Series: Frontiers in microbiology
ISSN: 1664-302X
ISSN-E: 1664-302X
ISSN-L: 1664-302X
Volume: 14
Article number: 1044286
DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2023.1044286
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was funded by LMH’s NERC IRF (NE/M018016/1).
Copyright information: © 2023 Jackson, Patapiou, Golding, Helanterä, Economou, Chapuisat and Henry. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.