Prof. Dr. Martin Kaltenpoth (JGU Mainz)
in: 'Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution': "An inordinate fondness for symbionts: mutualist-provided defense, digestion, and desiccation tolerance in beetles"
by Prof. Dr. Martin Kaltenpoth (JGU Mainz)
Symbiotic associations with microbes are important driving forces of evolutionary innovation. The hyperdiverse insect order Coleoptera, the beetles, are associated with an astounding diversity of symbionts that provide a wide range of functional benefits to their hosts. Highlighting a few selected beetle-microbe associations, I will report on novel findings of symbiont-provided antibiotic defense, microbe-enabled digestion of plant material, and symbiont-mediated adaptation to the abiotic environment. These examples are intended to show the impact of symbionts on niche expansion and diversification in beetles, but also provide insights into life-style switches from parasitism to mutualism in bacteria as well as the process of extreme genome reduction beyond the well-known intracellular symbioses.