Low bacterial community diversity in two introduced aphid pests revealed with 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing.
Bacterial endosymbionts that produce important phenotypic effects on their hosts are common among plant sap-sucking insects. Aphids have become a model system of insect-symbiont interactions. However, endosymbiont research has focused on a few aphid species, making it necessary to make greater efforts to other aphid species through different regions, in order to have a better understanding of the role of endosymbionts in aphids as a group. Aphid endosymbionts have frequently been studied by PCR-based techniques, using species-specific primers, nevertheless this approach may omit other non-target bacteria cohabiting a particular host species. Advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies are complementing our knowledge of microbial communities by allowing us the study of whole microbiome of different organisms. We used a 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing approach to study the microbiome of aphids in order to describe the bacterial community diversity in introduced populations of the cereal aphids, Sitobion avenae and Rhopalosiphum padi in Chile (South America). An absence of secondary endosymbionts and two common secondary endosymbionts of aphids were found in the aphids R. padi and S. avenae, respectively. Of those endosymbionts, Regiella insecticola was the dominant secondary endosymbiont among the aphid samples. In addition, the presence of a previously unidentified bacterial species closely related to a phytopathogenic Pseudomonad species was detected. We discuss these results in relation to the bacterial endosymbiont diversity found in other regions of the native and introduced range of S. avenae and R. padi. A similar endosymbiont diversity has been reported for both aphid species in their native range. However, variation in the secondary endosymbiont infection could be observed among the introduced and native populations of the aphid S. avenae, indicating that aphid-endosymbiont associations can vary across the geographic range of an aphid species. In addition, we discuss the potential role of aphids as vectors and/or alternative hosts of phytopathogenic bacteria.