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Curr Opin Insect Sci. 2017 Oct;23:65-69. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2017.07.012. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

The B vitamin nutrition of insects: the contributions of diet, microbiome and horizontally acquired genes.

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Department of Entomology and Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. Electronic address:


Insects generally cannot synthesize eight B vitamins that function as co-enzymes in various required enzymatic reactions. Most insects derive their B vitamin requirements from the diet, microbial symbionts, or a combination of these complementary sources. Exceptionally, the genomes of a few insects bear genes in vitamin B5 (pantothenate) and B7 (biotin) synthesis, horizontally acquired from bacteria. Biomarkers of B vitamin deficiency (e.g. vitamin titers, activity of vitamin-dependent enzymes) offer routes to investigate the incidence and the physiological and fitness consequences of B vitamin deficiency in laboratory and field populations of insects.


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