Stinkbugs of the genus Antestiopsis, so-called antestia bugs or variegated coffee bugs, are notorious pests of coffee plants in Africa. We investigated the symbiotic bacteria associated with Antestiopsis thunbergii, a major coffee plant pest in Rwanda. PCR, cloning, sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis of bacterial genes identified four distinct bacterial lineages associated with A. thunbergii: A gammaproteobacterial gut symbiont and symbionts representing the genera Sodalis, Spiroplasma, and Rickettsia. In situ hybridization showed that the gut symbiont densely occupied the lumen of midgut crypts, whereas the Sodalis symbiont, the Spiroplasma symbiont, and the Rickettsia symbiont sparsely and sporadically infected various cells and tissues. Diagnostic PCR survey of 154 A. thunbergii individuals collected at 8 localities in Rwanda revealed high infection frequencies (100% for the gut symbiont, 51.3% for the Sodalis symbiont, 52.6% for the Spiroplasma symbiont, and 24.0% for the Rickettsia symbiont). These results suggest that the gut symbiont is the primary symbiotic associate of obligate nature for A. thunbergii, whereas the Sodalis symbiont, the Spiroplasma symbiont, and the Rickettsia symbiont are the secondary symbiotic associates of facultative nature. We observed high coinfection frequencies, i.e., 7.8% of individuals with quadruple infection with all the symbionts, 32.5% with triple infections with the gut symbiont and two of the secondary symbionts, and 39.6% with double infections with the gut symbiont and any of the three secondary symbionts, which were statistically not different from the expected coinfection frequencies and probably reflected random associations. The knowledge of symbiotic microbiota in A. thunbergii will provide useful background information for controlling this devastating coffee plant pest.
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