Engineering bacterial symbionts of nematodes improves biocontrol potential of the western corn rootworm

Machado, Ricardo A. R.; Thönen, Lisa; Arce, Carla C. M.; Theepan, Vanitha; Prada, Fausto; Wüthrich, Daniel; Robert, Christelle A. M.; Vogiatzaki, Evangelia; Shi, Yi-Ming; Schaeren, Olivier P.; Notter, Matheus; Bruggmann, Rémy; Hapfelmeier, Siegfried; Bode, Helge B.; Erb, Matthias (2020). Engineering bacterial symbionts of nematodes improves biocontrol potential of the western corn rootworm. Nature biotechnology, 38(5), pp. 600-608. Nature America 10.1038/s41587-020-0419-1

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The western corn rootworm (WCR) decimates maize crops worldwide. One potential way to control this pest is treatment with entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) that harbor bacterial symbionts that are pathogenic to insects. However, WCR larvae sequester benzoxazinoid secondary metabolites that are produced by maize and use them to increase their resistance to the nematodes and their symbionts. Here we report that experimental evolution and selection for bacterial symbionts that are resistant to benzoxazinoids improve the ability of a nematode–symbiont pair to kill WCR larvae. We isolated five Photorhabdus symbionts from different nematodes and increased their benzoxazinoid resistance through experimental evolution. Benzoxazinoid resistance evolved through multiple mechanisms, including a mutation in the aquaporin-like channel gene aqpZ. We reintroduced benzoxazinoid-resistant Photorhabdus strains into their original EPN hosts and identified one nematode–symbiont pair that was able to kill benzoxazinoid-sequestering WCR larvae more efficiently. Our results suggest that modification of bacterial symbionts might provide a generalizable strategy to improve biocontrol of agricultural pests.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biotic Interactions
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Machado, Ricardo; Thönen, Lisa Paulina; Marques Arce, Carla Cristina; Prada Chaparro, Fausto; Wüthrich, Daniel; Robert, Christelle Aurélie Maud; Vogiatzaki, Evangelia; Schären, Olivier; Notter Dias, Matheus; Bruggmann, Rémy; Hapfelmeier, Siegfried Hektor and Erb, Matthias

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

ISSN:

1087-0156

Publisher:

Nature America

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2020 15:40

Last Modified:

14 May 2020 01:32

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41587-020-0419-1

PubMed ID:

32066956

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.141467

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/141467

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