Acta Entomologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 64 ›› Issue (1): 121-140.doi: 10.16380/j.kcxb.2021.01.013

• REVIEW ARTICLES • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Research advances in symbiotic microorganisms in insects and their functions

WANG Wei-Xia1, ZHU Ting-Heng2,*, LAI Feng-Xiang1,*   

  1.  (1. China National Rice Research Institute, Hangzhou 310006, China; 2. Institute of Microbiology, College of Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou 310014, China)
  • Online:2021-01-20 Published:2021-02-18

Abstract: Symbiotic microorganisms can account for 1%-10% of insect biomass, including acteria, fungi, archaea and viruses. Insects and symbiotic microorganisms co-evolve to form holobionts. Symbiotic microorganisms play an important role in the biological characteristics, diversity formation, ecological adaptability and stress resistance of insects. Crop pest insects seriously affect agricultural production. In this article, the research advances in the diversity, research methods, and functional mechanisms of insect symbiotic microorganisms, the interaction between symbiotic microorganisms and their application in pest control since 2000 were reviewed and prospected. With the continuous development and application of advanced research methods such as molecular microbial ecology and metagenomic sequencing, breakthroughs have been made in the research of symbiotic microorganisms of agricultural pest insects. It was found that symbiotic microorganisms mainly affect host insects in the following ways: (1) Synthesis of nutrients or production of digestive enzymes to promote host growth and development and to expand host ecological niche; (2) Production of protective metabolites to directly protect the host against stress or indirectly protect the host by regulating the defense response of host plants; and (3) Production of active substances to regulate host propagation, mating, aggregation and movement. The abundance and community composition of insect symbiotic microorganisms maintain dynamic changes in a certain spatial-temporal range and have an important impact on host phenotype, which is the result of the benefit trade-off among host, environment, and interactive microorganisms. We suggest that future research should focus on clarifying the molecular mechanisms underlying the formation and maintenance of symbionts, ascertaining the complex interactions among symbiotic microorganisms, host insects, plants, natural enemies and the environment in more spatial-temporal dimensions, and designing green and efficient pest control strategies through targeted regulation of pest insect symbionts.

Key words:  Herbivorous insects, agricultural pest insects, symbiotic microorganisms; molecular microbial ecology, holobiont, pest control