Session: Vital Connections in Ecology: Multi-Trophic Interactions and Ecosystem Function 2
Pseudomonas can prevent the parasitic fungus, while keeping the crop fungus unaffected, in the gardens of Odontotermes obesus
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Renuka Agarwal, Manisha Gupta, Abin Antony and Rhitoban Raychoudhury, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Indian Institute of Science and Education Research Mohali, MOHALI, India, Ruchira Sen, Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, India
BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Indian Institute of Science and Education Research Mohali MOHALI, India
Background/Question/Methods Insects that farm monocultures of fungi are canonical examples of nutritional symbiosis as well as independent evolution of agriculture in non-human animals. But just like in human agriculture, these fungal crops face constant threat of invasion by weeds which, if unchecked, takes over the crop fungus. In fungus-growing termites, the crop fungus (Termitomyces) faces such challenges from the parasitic fungus Pseudoxylaria. The mechanism by which Pseudoxylaria is suppressed is not known. However, evidence suggests that some bacterial secondary symbionts can serve as defensive mutualists by preventing the growth of Pseudoxylaria. However, such secondary symbionts must possess the dual, yet contrasting, capabilities of suppressing the weedy fungus while keeping the growth of the crop fungus unaffected. This study describes the isolation, identification and culture-dependent estimation of the roles of several such putative defensive mutualists from the colonies of the wide-spread fungus-growing termite from India, Odontotermes obesus. Culture-dependent approach coupled with a 16S rRNA pan-microbiome survey, using the Nanopore platform, revealed the presence of many bacteria to be a part of the core microbiota of Odontotermes obesus. Results/Conclusions From the 38 bacterial cultures tested, a strain of Pseudomonas showed significantly greater suppression of the weedy fungus than the crop fungus. Moreover, a 16S rDNA pan-microbiome survey, revealed Pseudomonas to be a part of the core microbiota of O. obesus. A meta-analysis of microbiota composition across different species of Odontotermes also confirms the wide-spread prevalence of Pseudomonas within this termite. These evidence indicate that Pseudomonas could be playing the role of defensive mutualist within Odontotermes.