Mutualism meltdown in insects: bacteria constrain thermal adaptation.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)

Predicting whether and how organisms will successfully cope with climate change presents critical questions for biologists and environmental scientists. Models require knowing how organisms interact with their abiotic environment, as well understanding biotic interactions that include a network of symbioses in which all species are embedded. Bacterial symbionts of insects offer valuable models to examine how microbes can facilitate and constrain adaptation to a changing environment. While some symbionts confer plasticity that accelerates adaptation, long-term bacterial mutualists of insects are characterized by tight lifestyle constraints, genome deterioration, and vulnerability to thermal stress. These essential bacterial partners are eliminated at high temperatures, analogous to the loss of zooanthellae during coral bleaching. Recent field-based studies suggest that thermal sensitivity of bacterial mutualists constrains insect responses. In this sense, highly dependent mutualisms may be the Achilles' heel of thermal responses in insects.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wernegreen, JJ

Published Date

  • June 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 15 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 255 - 262

PubMed ID

  • 22381679

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3590105

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-0364

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1369-5274

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.mib.2012.02.001


  • eng