Specific developmental window for establishment of an insect-microbe gut symbiosis

Yoshitomo Kikuchi, Takahiro Hosokawa, Takema Fukatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


The alydid stinkbug Riptortus pedestris is specifically associated with a beneficial Burkholderia symbiont in the midgut crypts. Exceptional among insect-microbe mutualistic associations, the Burkholderia symbiont is not vertically transmitted but orally acquired by nymphal insects from the environment every generation. Here we experimentally investigated the process of symbiont acquisition during the nymphal development of R. pedestris. In a field population, many 2nd instar nymphs were Burkholderia free, while all 3rd, 4th, and 5th instar nymphs were infected. When reared on soil-grown potted soybean plants, Burkholderia acquisition occurred at a drastically higher frequency in the 2nd instar than in the other instars. Oral administration of cultured Burkholderia cells showed that 2nd and 3rd instar nymphs are significantly more susceptible to the symbiont infection than 1st, 4th, and 5th instar nymphs. Histological observations revealed rudimentary midgut crypts in the 1st instar, in contrast to well-developed midgut crypts in the 2nd and later instars. These results indicate that R. pedestris acquires the Burkholderia symbiont from the environment mainly during the 2nd instar period and strongly suggest that the competence for the symbiont infection is developmentally regulated by the host side. Potential mechanisms involved in infection competence and possible reasons why the infection preferentially occurs in the 2nd instar are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4075-4081
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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