Chironomids are abundant insects in freshwater habitats. They undergo a complete metamorphosis of four life stages: eggs, larvae, and pupae in water, and a terrestrial adult stage. Chironomids are known to be pollution-tolerant, but little is known about their resistance mechanisms to toxic substances. Here we review current knowledge regarding the chironomid microbiome. Chironomids were found as natural reservoirs of Vibrio cholerae and Aeromonas spp. A stable bacterial community was found in the egg masses and the larvae when both culture-dependent and -independent methods were used. A large portion of the endogenous bacterial species was closely related to species known as toxicant degraders. Bioassays based on Koch’s postulates demonstrated that the chironomid microbiome plays a role in protecting its host from toxic hexavalent chromium and lead. V. cholerae, a stable resident in chironomids, is present at low prevalence. It degrades the egg masses by secreting haemagglutinin/protease, prevents eggs from hatching, and exhibits host pathogen interactions with chironomids. However, the nutrients from the degraded egg masses may support the growth of the other microbiome members and consequently control V. cholerae numbers in the egg mass. V. cholerae, other chironomid endogenous bacteria, and their chironomid host exhibit complex mutualistic relationships.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Our thanks go to Professor Simcha Lev-Yadun for his helpful comments. This study was supported by the Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF) with support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Grant no. ILB1-7045-HA-11.
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.
- Egg mass
- Endogenous bacterial community
- Koch postulates
- Metal detoxification
- Vibrio cholerae
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science