Study authors Dalial Freitak, David Heckel and Heiko Vogel from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany along with Christopher Wheat from the University of Helsinki, Finland, deliberately fed insects with non-infectious microorganisms.
The researchers watched to see how the herbivorous insect, the cabbage semilooper Trichoplusia ni (Lepidoptera), detected and responded to a diet laced with nonpathogenic, non-infectious bacteria. In most studies to date, lab reared insects have been injected with bacterial strains, whereas in nature the insects’ main exposure would be from eating plants.
The larvae were reared on diets with or without an added helping of Escherichia coli and Micrococcus luteus bacteria. In the bacteria-fed larvae, general antibacterial activity was enhanced, although the activity of one key enzyme related to immune response - phenoloxidase - was inhibited. Among the eight proteins highly expressed in the hemolymph of the bacteria-fed larvae were the immune-response-related proteins arylphorin, apolipophorin III and gloverin. Significantly, the pupation time and pupal mass of bacteria-fed larvae was negatively affected by their unhealthy diet.
The authors conclude that even non-pathogenic bacteria in food can trigger an immune response in insects with significant effects. “Trichoplusia ni larvae are able to detect and respond to environmental microbes encountered in the diet, possibly even using midgut epithelial tissue as a sensing organ,” says Vogel. Although this reaction to microbes comes at a price, it may be offering protection from serious infection. “These results show that microbial communities on food plants represent a dynamic and unstudied part of the coevolutionary interactions between plants and their insect herbivores,” he adds.
Charlotte Webber | alfa
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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