Seasonal dynamics of Chironomus transvaalensis populations and the microbial community composition of their egg masses

Rotem Sela, Malka Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chironomids (Diptera; Chironomidae) are the most abundant insects in freshwater environments and are considered natural reservoirs of Vibrio cholerae. We monitored the annual dynamics of chironomid populations along with their microbiota in order to better understand host-microbiota interactions. Chironomus transvaalensis populations peaked biannually in August and May-June. The composition of the endogenous bacterial communities of their egg masses clustered in two groups according to the sampling periods August-November and May-July. Nevertheless, a core bacterial community (43%) was present in all egg-mass samples. The most abundant phyla were: Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Cyanobacteria and Bacteroidetes. The abundance of several genera (e.g. Rheinheimera and Pseudomonas) was positively correlated with C. transvaalensis population dynamics, while a predator-prey interaction was observed between the relative abundance of Vibrio OTUs and C. transvaalensis population size. Chironomids are known to tolerate toxic and stress conditions, and our results demonstrated that bacterial genera that may protect the insect under these conditions are present in the egg masses. After hatching, the first larval meal is the gelatinous matrix that surrounds the eggs. This meal contains a probiotic consortium that may protect the larva during its metamorphosis. The results provide important insights into the host-microbe interactions of chironomids.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfnaa008
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 FEMS 2020.


  • Rheinheimera
  • Vibrio
  • chironomid
  • egg mass
  • host-bacteria interaction
  • microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology


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