• Cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni Hübner) labial glands contain unique bacterial flora in contrast with their alimentary canal, mandibular glands, and Malpighian tubules

      Lawrence, S.D.; Novak, N.G.; Ghosh, S.K.B. (Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2020)
      In recent years, several studies have examined the gut microbiome of lepidopteran larvae and how factors such as host plant affect it, and in turn, how gut bacteria affect host plant responses to herbivory. In addition, other studies have detailed how secretions of the labial (salivary) glands can alter host plant defense responses. We examined the gut microbiome of the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) feeding on collards (Brassica oleracea) and separately analyzed the microbiomes of various organs that open directly into the alimentary canal, including the labial glands, mandibular glands, and the Malpighian tubules. In this study, the gut microbiome of T.ni was found to be generally consistent with those of other lepidopteran larvae in prior studies. The greatest diversity of bacteria appeared in the Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, and Bacteriodetes. Well-represented genera included Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Corynebacterium, Pseudomonas, Diaphorobacter, Methylobacterium, Flavobacterium, and Cloacibacterium. Across all organs, two amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) associated with the genera Diaphorobacter and Cloacibacterium appeared to be most abundant. In terms of the most prevalent ASVs, the alimentary canal, Malpighian tubules, and mandibular glands appeared to have similar complements of bacteria, with relatively few significant differences evident. However, aside from the Diaphorobacter and Cloacibacterium ASVs common to all the organs, the labial glands appeared to possess a distinctive complement of bacteria which was absent or poorly represented in the other organs. Among these were representatives of the Pseudomonas, Flavobacterium, Caulobacterium, Anaerococcus, and Methylobacterium. These results suggest that the labial glands present bacteria with different selective pressures than those occurring in the mandibular gland, Malpighian tubules and the alimentary canal. Given the documented effects that labial gland secretions and the gut microbiome can exert on host plant defenses, the effects exerted by the bacteria inhabiting the labial glands themselves deserve further study. Copyright 2020 The Authors.