Gender-specific bacterial composition of black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae)


Correspondence: Liyan Ping, Department of Bioorganic Chemistry, Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Beutenberg Campus, Hans-Knoell-Str. 8, D-07745 Jena, Germany. Tel.: +49 3641 57 1214; fax: +49 3641 57 1202; e-mail:


Although hematophagous black flies are well-known socioeconomic pests and vectors of disease agents, their associated bacteria are poorly known. A systematic analysis of the bacterial community associated with freshly emerged adult black flies of four North American species, using cultivation-independent molecular techniques, revealed 75 nonsingleton bacterial phylotypes. Although 17 cosmopolitan phylotypes were shared among host species, each fly species had a distinct bacterial profile. The bacterial composition, however, did not correlate strongly with the host phylogeny but differed between male and female flies of the same species from the same habitat, demonstrating that a group of insects have a gender-dependent bacterial community. In general, female flies harbor a less diverse bacterial community than do males. The anatomical locations of selected bacteria were revealed using fluorescence in situ hybridization. Understanding the physiological function of the associated bacterial community could provide clues for developing novel pest-management strategies.