Diverse Strategies for Vertical Symbiont Transmission among Subsocial Stinkbugs

Takahiro Hosokawa, Mantaro Hironaka, Koichi Inadomi, Hiromi Mukai, Naruo Nikoh, Takema Fukatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Sociality may affect symbiosis and vice versa. Many plant-sucking stinkbugs harbor mutualistic bacterial symbionts in the midgut. In the superfamily Pentatomoidea, adult females excrete symbiont-containing materials from the anus, which their offspring ingest orally and establish vertical symbiont transmission. In many stinkbug families whose members are mostly non-social, females excrete symbiont-containing materials onto/beside eggs upon oviposition. However, exceptional cases have been reported from two subsocial species representing the closely related families Cydnidae and Parastrachiidae, wherein females remain nearby eggs for maternal care after oviposition, and provide their offspring with symbiont-containing secretions at later stages, either just before or after hatching. These observations suggested that sociality of the host stinkbugs may be correlated with their symbiont transmission strategies. However, we found that cydnid stinkbugs of the genus Adomerus, which are associated with gammaproteobacterial gut symbionts and exhibit elaborate maternal care over their offspring, smear symbiont-containing secretions onto eggs upon oviposition as many non-social stinkbugs do. Surface sterilization of the eggs resulted in aposymbiotic insects of slower growth, smaller size and abnormal body coloration, indicating vertical symbiont transmission via egg surface contamination and presumable beneficial nature of the symbiosis. The Adomerus symbionts exhibited AT-biased nucleotide compositions, accelerated molecular evolutionary rates and reduced genome size, while these degenerative genomic traits were less severe than those in the symbiont of a subsocial parastrachiid. These results suggest that not only sociality but also other ecological and evolutionary aspects of the host stinkbugs, including the host-symbiont co-evolutionary history, may have substantially affected their symbiont transmission strategies. (250 words).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65081
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 31 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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