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Science. 2008 Oct 3;322(5898):63. doi: 10.1126/science.1160423.

Bacterial protection of beetle-fungus mutualism.

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  • 1Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53706, USA.

Abstract

Host-microbe symbioses play a critical role in the evolution of biological diversity and complexity. In a notably intricate system, southern pine beetles use symbiotic fungi to help overcome host-tree defenses and to provide nutrition for their larvae. We show that this beetle-fungal mutualism is chemically mediated by a bacterially produced polyunsaturated peroxide. The molecule's selective toxicity toward the beetle's fungal antagonist, combined with the prevalence and localization of its bacterial source, indicates an insect-microbe association that is both mutualistic and coevolved. This unexpected finding in a well-studied system indicates that mutualistic associations between insects and antibiotic-producing bacteria are more common than currently recognized and that identifying their small-molecule mediators can provide a powerful search strategy for therapeutically useful antimicrobial compounds.

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PMID:
18832638
PMCID:
PMC2761720
DOI:
10.1126/science.1160423
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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