Microbial symbionts of herbivorous species across the insect tree

Enric Frago, Sharon E. Zytynska, Nina E. Fatouros

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Microbes play crucial roles in the biology of herbivorous insects, and the last decade has provided exciting new evidence for a prominent role of microbial symbiosis in detoxification of plant toxins, manipulation of plant defences and defence against natural enemies. We provide an order by order update of symbioses across herbivorous insects, particularly focusing on recent published evidence, and on how symbionts interact with the defensive system of the plant. While the hemimetabolous Hemiptera order largely relies on obligatory microbial symbioses, we did not find such a close relationship between symbionts and hosts in the other three orders Orthoptera, Phasmatodea and Thysanoptera. These three orders mostly harbour transient gut symbionts and/or rely on laterally transferred genes from microbes. Despite the radical changes and harsh conditions during metamorphosis, numerous holometabolous species transmit symbionts vertically and show close associations with both intra- and extracellular symbionts. The last section of this book chapter discusses the role that symbionts will play in future scenarios of global warming, but also their implications for the transmission of plant viruses and modern agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMechanisms Underlying Microbial Symbiosis
EditorsKerry M. Oliver, Jacob A. Russell
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
ISBN (Print)9780081029879
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Insect Physiology
ISSN (Print)0065-2806
ISSN (Electronic)2213-6800


  • Agriculture
  • Global warming
  • Hemimetabola
  • Holometabola
  • Horizontal gene transfer
  • Nutrient provisioning
  • Plant cell wall degradation
  • Plant defences
  • Virus transmission


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