Brevia

Bacterial Protection of Beetle-Fungus Mutualism

Science  03 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5898, pp. 63
DOI: 10.1126/science.1160423

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text
As a service to the community, AAAS/Science has made this article free with registration.

Abstract

Host-microbe symbioses play a critical role in the evolution of biological diversity and complexity. In a notably intricate system, southern pine beetles use symbiotic fungi to help overcome host-tree defenses and to provide nutrition for their larvae. We show that this beetle-fungal mutualism is chemically mediated by a bacterially produced polyunsaturated peroxide. The molecule's selective toxicity toward the beetle's fungal antagonist, combined with the prevalence and localization of its bacterial source, indicates an insect-microbe association that is both mutualistic and coevolved. This unexpected finding in a well-studied system indicates that mutualistic associations between insects and antibiotic-producing bacteria are more common than currently recognized and that identifying their small-molecule mediators can provide a powerful search strategy for therapeutically useful antimicrobial compounds.

    View Full Text

    Cited By...