Symbiont Diversity and Feeding Strategies in Insect Agricultural Pests

15 December 2015 → 15 September 2018
Federal funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Systems biology
Project description

Insects are extremely versatile in exploiting a large range of nutritional niches. This is not so much the result of their metabolic

flexibility but heavily depends on intimate relationships between insects and associated endosymbionts. Gut bacterial assemblages

play a fundamental role in making the plant tissue edible for the insect and promote adaptation between phytophagous insects and

host plants. This project focuses on the relationships between insect endosymbiont diversity and host plant adaptation in tephritid

fruit flies (Diptera). We aim at describing and comparing gut microbial assemblages across closely related fruit flies with diverse

feeding strategies. This will provide the necessary baseline data for innovative research on relationship between insect

endosymbionts, host range spectrum, and metabolic processes. We propose to use metagenomics to sample with unprecedented

detail the gut bacterial assemblages of these vvidespread agricultural pests. V\'hile the Royal 1'11useun1 for Central Africa (Rtv1CA) has

extensive knowledge on fruit fly systematics and phylogeny, the Laboratory of Microbiology at Ghent University (GU), who is also

in charge of the BELSPO financed BCCM/LMG Bacteria Collection, has solid experience in the study of microbial diversity.

Bringing these two fields of expertise together, while exploring new technologies, is a synergetic collaboration that aims at

providing a significant contribution to research on insect pests.