Differences in microbiota between two multilocus lineages of the sugarcane aphid (Melanaphis sacchari) in the continental United States

Jocelyn R. Holt, Alex Styer, Jennifer A. White, J. Scott Armstrong, Samuel Nibouche, Laurent Costet, Antonino Malacrinò, Josephine B. Antwi, Jason Wulff, Gary Peterson, Neal McLaren, Raul F. Medina

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14 Scopus citations


The sugarcane aphid (SCA), Melanaphis Sacchari (Zehntner) (Hemiptera: Aphididae), has been considered an invasive pest of sugarcane in the continental United States since 1977. Then, in 2013, SCA abruptly became a serious pest of U.S. sorghum and is now a sorghum pest in 22 states across the continental United States. Changes in insect-associated microbial community composition are known to influence host-plant range in aphids. In this study, we assessed whether changes in microbiota composition may explain the SCA outbreak in U.S. sorghum. We characterized the SCA bacterial microbiota on sugarcane and grain sorghum in four U.S. states, using a metabarcoding approach. In addition, we used taxon-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers to screen for bacteria commonly reported in aphid species. As anticipated, all SCA harbored the primary aphid endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola, an obligate mutualistic bacterial symbiont. Interestingly, none of the secondary symbionts, facultative bacteria typically associated with aphids (e.g., Arsenophonus, Hamiltonella, Regiella) were present in either the metabarcoding data or PCR screens (with the exception of Rickettsiella and Serratia, which were detected by metabarcoding at low abundances <1%). However, our metabarcoding detected bacteria not previously identified in aphids (Arcobacter, Bifidobacterium, Citrobacter). Lastly, we found microbial host-associated differentiation in aphids that seems to correspond to genetically distinct aphid lineages that prefer to feed on grain sorghum (MLL-F) versus sugarcane (MLL-D).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the Entomological Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 20 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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