Episode Summary

Beetles inoculate bamboo with a fungus that consumes the bamboo sugars to feed the beetle larvae!

Microbe of the episode:

Saccharomyces cerevisiae virus L-BC (La)

Video: Lizard beetle laying its egg

News Item

Jesse's takeaways

The structural polymers that make up plants, such as cellulose, can be difficult for many organisms to digest. Some kinds of bacteria and fungi can do it, and some animals (cows, pandas, termites) partner with these microbes to be able to eat otherwise indigestible plant material. This includes insects such as leaf-cutter ants that farm external gardens of microbes, providing them plant material and then eating the resulting microbial growth.

In this study, the lizard beetle lays its eggs in bamboo and inoculates the walls of the bamboo with a fungus that provides food to the larvae. Chemical analyses suggest that the fungus only consumes the simple sugars in the bamboo rather than breaking down the tougher polymers, which raises questions about the evolution of this interaction.

Journal Paper

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