Changes in Microbiota Composition Along the Metamorphosis Developmental Stages of Chironomus transvaalensis

Rotem Sela, Sivan Laviad-Shitrit, Malka Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chironomids (Diptera; Chironomidae), also known as non-biting midges, are one of the most abundant insects in freshwater habitats. Our aim was to understand whether the metamorphosis developmental stages affect the endogenous microbiota composition of Chironomus transvaalensis. Toward our objective, we analyzed the endogenous microbiota composition of C. transvaalensis’ four life stages: egg masses, larvae, pupae, and adults. Significant differences were found between the microbiota compositions of the different developmental stages of this Chironomus species. We observed a decline in bacterial diversity as the insect evolved from egg mass to adult, while the highest richness was observed in the pupal stage. Although there were significant differences between the microbiota compositions of each life stage, a bacterial core, which included 27 Amplicon Sequence Variants (ASVs), was found in all the developmental life stages (in ≥75% of samples). Chironomids are natural reservoirs of Vibrio cholerae and Aeromonas species, and the Vibrio and Aeromonas ASVs were part of the core bacteria. The presence of the ompW gene, which is specific to V. cholerae, confirmed the presence of this species in all the chironomid’s life stages. Thus, the results provide important insights about the host–microbe interactions in chironomids with a specific understanding of chironomids-Vibrio-Aeromonas-microbiota interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number586678
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 6 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation BSF (grant number 2015103) and by the India-Israel Joint UGC-ISF grant (grant number 2728/17).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Sela, Laviad-Shitrit and Halpern.


  • Aeromonas, Deinococcus-Thermus
  • Vibrio
  • chironomid
  • host–bacteria interaction
  • insect
  • microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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