A number of phytophagous stinkbugs are associated with specific bacterial symbionts in their alimentary tracts. The sloe bug Dolycoris baccarum (Linnaeus), a notorious pest of diverse crops, possesses a number of sac-like tissues, called crypts, in a posterior section of the midgut, wherein a specific bacterial symbiont colonizes. Here we characterized the symbiotic bacterium of D. baccarum by histological analysis, molecular phylogeny, and diagnostic PCR with a specific primer set. The cloning and sequencing analyses of bacterial 16S rRNA genes and fluorescent in situ hybridization demonstrated that the sloe bug is associated with a single species of Gammaproteobacteria in the midgut crypts. Molecular phylogenetic analysis strongly suggested that the symbiont should be placed in the genus Pantoea of the Enterobacteriaceae. Diagnostic PCR and egg surface sterilization with formalin indicated the stinkbug vertically transmits the Pantoea symbiont via egg-smearing. The sterilization-produced aposymbiotic nymphs showed high mortality and no insects reached adulthood. In addition, the Pantoea symbiont was uncultivable outside the insect host, indicating an obligate and intimate host-symbiont association.
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