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Microb Biotechnol. 2012 May;5(3):307-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7915.2011.00312.x. Epub 2011 Nov 22.

Microbial symbionts: a resource for the management of insect-related problems.

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Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Alimentari e Microbiologiche, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy.


Microorganisms establish with their animal hosts close interactions. They are involved in many aspects of the host life, physiology and evolution, including nutrition, reproduction, immune homeostasis, defence and speciation. Thus, the manipulation and the exploitation the microbiota could result in important practical applications for the development of strategies for the management of insect-related problems. This approach, defined as 'Microbial Resource Management' (MRM), has been applied successfully in various environments and ecosystems, as wastewater treatments, prebiotics in humans, anaerobic digestion and so on. MRM foresees the proper management of the microbial resource present in a given ecosystem in order to solve practical problems through the use of microorganisms. In this review we present an interesting field for application for MRM concept, i.e. the microbial communities associated with arthropods and nematodes. Several examples related to this field of applications are presented. Insect microbiota can be manipulated: (i) to control insect pests for agriculture; (ii) to control pathogens transmitted by insects to humans, animals and plants; (iii) to protect beneficial insects from diseases and stresses. Besides, we prospect further studies aimed to verify, improve and apply MRM by using the insect-symbiont ecosystem as a model.

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