Structure and topology of microbial communities in the major gut compartments of Melolontha melolontha larvae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae)

Markus Egert, Ulrich Stingl, Lars Dyhrberg Bruun, Bianca Pommerenke, Andreas Brune, Michael W. Friedrich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Physicochemical gut conditions and the composition and topology of the intestinal microbiota in the major gut compartments of the root-feeding larva of the European cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) were studied. Axial and radial profiles of pH, O2, H2, and redox potential were measured with microsensors. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of bacterial 16S rRNA genes in midgut samples of individual larvae revealed a simple but variable and probably nonspecific community structure. In contrast, the T-RFLP profiles of the hindgut samples were more diverse but highly similar, especially in the wall fraction, indicating the presence of a gut-specific community involved in digestion. While high acetate concentrations in the midgut and hindgut (34 and 15 mM) corroborated the presence of microbial fermentation in both compartments, methanogenesis was confined to the hindgut. Methanobrevibacter spp. were the only methanogens detected and were restricted to this compartment. Bacterial 16S rRNA gene clone libraries of the hindgut were dominated by clones related to the Clostridiales. Clones related to the Actinobacteria, Bacillales, Lactobacillales, and γ-Proteobacteria were restricted to the lumen, whereas clones related to the β- and δ-Proteobacteria were found only on the hindgut wall. Results of PCR-based analyses and fluorescence in situ hybridization of whole cells with group-specific oligonucleotide probes documented that Desulfovibrio-related bacteria comprise 10 to 15% of the bacterial community at the hindgut wall. The restriction of the sulfate-reducer-specific adenosine-5′-phosphosulfate reductase gene apsA to DNA extracts of the hindgut wall in larvae from four other populations in Europe suggested that sulfate reducers generally colonize this habitat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4556-4566
Number of pages11
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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