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Keywords:

  • bacterial symbionts;
  • ecological speciation;
  • host-associated differentiation;
  • leaf galls;
  • Phylloxera

Abstract

Host-associated differentiation (HAD) is the presence of genetically divergent, host-associated populations. It has been suggested that microbial symbionts of insect herbivores may play a role in HAD by allowing their insect hosts to use different plant species. The objective of this study was to document if host-associated populations of Phylloxera notabilis Pergande (Hemiptera: Phylloxeridae) in pecan and water hickory corresponded with differences in the composition of their associated bacteria. To test this hypothesis, we characterized the symbionts present in P. notabilis associated with these two tree species through metagenomic analyses using 454 sequencing. Differences in bacterial diversity were found between P. notabilis populations associated with pecan and water hickory. The bacteria, Pantoea agglomerans and Serratia marcescens, were absent in the P. notabilis water hickory population, whereas both species accounted for more than 69.72% of bacterial abundance in the pecan population.