Symbiont acquisition alters behaviour of stinkbug nymphs

Takahiro Hosokawa, Yoshitomo Kikuchi, Masakazu Shimada, Takema Fukatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


In parasitic associations, the evolutionary interest of a symbiont contradicts that of a host, which sometimes causes the phenomena so-called 'parasite manipulation' wherein symbiont infection alters host behaviour to facilitate its vertical/horizontal transmission. In mutualistic associations, meanwhile, symbiont-induced alteration of host behaviour that enhances its transmission has been little described. Here we report such a case in the stinkbug Megacopta punctatissima associated with an obligate gut bacterium. When female stinkbugs lay eggs, small particles called 'symbiont capsules' are deposited underside of the egg mass. Newborn nymphs immediately acquire the symbiont from the capsule, and then aggregate and become quiescent. By manipulating the levels of symbiont supply to newborn nymphs experimentally, we demonstrated that (i) experimental depletion of the symbiont resulted in the occurrence of wandering nymphs, (ii) the less symbiont supply, the more wandering nymphs, and (iii) almost all wandering nymphs were either symbiont-free or symbiont-depleted, whereas the majority of resting nymphs were infected with sufficient titres of the symbiont. These results strongly suggest that the nymphal behaviour is strongly influenced by the success/failure of the symbiont acquisition, thereby ensuring transmission of the essential symbiont and minimizing the energy and time spent for the activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-48
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 23 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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