The bacterial community associated with adult vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) in UK populations growing on strawberry is dominated by Candidatus Nardonella

Pilar Morera-Margarit, Davide Bulgarelli, Tom W. Pope, Rob Graham, Carolyn Mitchell, Alison J. Karley

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Otiorhynchus sulcatus (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), commonly known as black vine weevil or simply vine weevil, is an important pest of soft fruit and ornamental crops. This species is endemic to temperate areas of Europe but has spread to many other areas over the last century, including North America and Australasia. The ability of vine weevils to adapt to such different environments is difficult to reconcile with the parthenogenetic reproduction strategy, which is likely to underpin a low genetic diversity. It is therefore tempting to hypothesize that weevil adaptation to different environments is mediated, at least partly, by the microbial communities inhabiting these insects. As a first step towards testing this hypothesis we characterized the composition of the bacterial microbiota in weevils from populations feeding on strawberry plants across four geographically separate locations in the UK. We performed 16S rRNA gene Illumina amplicon sequencing, generating 2 882 853 high-quality reads. Ecological indices, namely Chao1 and Shannon, revealed that the populations used for this study harboured a low diversity and an uneven bacterial microbiota. Furthermore, β-diversity analysis failed to identify a clear association between microbiota composition and location. Notably, a single operational taxonomic unit phylogenetically related to Candidatus Nardonella accounted for 81% of the total sequencing reads for all tested insects. Our results indicate that vine weevil bacterial microbiota resembles that of other insects as it has low diversity and it is dominated by few taxa. A prediction of this observation is that location per se may not be a determinant of the microbiota inhabiting weevil populations. Rather, other or additional selective pressures, such as the plant species used as a food source, ultimately shape the weevil bacterial microbiota. Our results will serve as a reference framework to investigate other or additional hypotheses aimed at elucidating vine weevil adaptation to its environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-196
Number of pages11
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Coleoptera
  • Curculionidae
  • Fragaria x ananassa
  • Illumina sequencing
  • Rosaceae
  • bacterial diversity
  • biological control
  • insect adaptation
  • operational taxonomic unit
  • proteobacteria


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