Beetles of the family Passalidae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) are termed subsocial. The insects inhabit rotten wood as family groups consisting of the parents and their offspring. The Japanese species Cylindrocaulus patalis has the lowest fecundity among passalids because siblicide occurs among the first-instar larvae; accordingly, parental care toward the survived larva is the highest among Passalidae. To clarify the nutritional relationships between the parents and their offspring, we investigated their ability to digest three types of polysaccharides that are components of wood (cellulose and β-1,4-xylan) and fungal cell walls (β-1,3-glucan). Although carboxymethyl-cellulase activity was barely detectable, β-xylosidase, β-glucosidase, β-1,4-xylanase and β-1,3-glucanase activities were clearly detected in both adults and larvae. Because the activities of enzymes that digest β-1,3-glucan were much higher than those for degrading β-1,4-xylan, in both adults and larvae, it is concluded that they are mainly fungivorous. Furthermore, these digestive enzymatic activities in second- and third-instar larvae were much lower than they were in adults. Although all larval instars grew rapidly when fed chewed wood by their parents, larvae ceased growing and died when fed only artificially ground wood meals. We conclude that the larvae are assumed to be provided with chewed predigested wood in which β-1,3-glucan is degraded by parental enzymes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science