Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tiny bugs in mealybugs have smaller bugs inside them

28.08.2002


Like tiny Russian dolls, the mealybugs that infest your houseplants carry bacteria inside their cells that are themselves infected with another type of bacteria. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, shows that instead of spreading from bug to bug, the second set of bacteria infected the first several times in the past and are now being passed along and evolving with them.



The knowledge could be useful for working out how the insect species are related to each other, aiding pest control efforts.

Scientists had previously known that mealybugs carry two different types of bacteria. In 2001, researchers at Utah State University led by Carol von Dohlen showed that one type, called the secondary or S-endosymbiont, was actually inside the other, called the primary or P-endosymbiont. The P-endosymbionts were themselves inside specialized cells in the mealybug’s body.


The P-endosymbionts seem to benefit mealybugs by making essential amino acids not found in their diet of plant sap, said UC Davis microbiology professor Paul Baumann.

"The insect has domesticated a bacterium for its own use," Baumann said. So far, no one knows what benefits flow to the insect or the P-endosymbiont from the S-endosymbionts, he said.

Baumann, with postgraduate researcher My Lo Thao and entomology professor Penny Gullan studied DNA sequences of P-and S-endosymbionts from several different species of mealybugs to see how they were related to each other.

The P-endosymbionts are all descended from an infection of an ancestor bug 150 to 250 million years ago, Baumann said. The S-endosymbionts had infected P-endosymbionts at least four times. Since then, the bacteria have been passed down through generations of bugs and split into new species at the same time as their hosts.

Because the evolutionary trees of the bugs, their bacteria and their bacteria’s bacteria are so similar, the bacterial DNA sequences can be used to identify the insects and work out how the different species of mealybug are related to each other. Bacterial DNA is easier to work with than insect DNA, Baumann said.

Mealybugs belong to the same group of insects as aphids and psyllids. Many members of the group are significant pests on farms, gardens and houseplants.

Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>