Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

An invasive beetle-fungus complex is maintained by fungal nutritional-compensation mediated by bacterial volatiles.

Abstract

Mutualisms between symbiotic microbes and animals have been well documented, and nutritional relationships provide the foundation for maintaining beneficial associations. The well-studied mutualism between bark beetles and their fungi has become a classic model system in the study of symbioses. Despite the nutritional competition between bark beetles and beneficial fungi in the same niche due to poor nutritional feeding substrates, bark beetles still maintain mutualistic associations with beneficial fungi over time. The mechanism behind this phenomenon, however, remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrated the bark beetle Dendroctonus valens LeConte relies on the symbiotic bacterial volatile ammonia, as a nitrogen source, to regulate carbohydrate metabolism of its mutualistic fungus Leptographium procerum to alleviate nutritional competition, thereby maintaining the stability of the bark beetle-fungus mutualism. Ammonia significantly reduces competition of L. procerum for carbon resources for D. valens larval growth and increases fungal growth. Using stable isotope analysis, we show the fungus breakdown of phloem starch into d-glucose by switching on amylase genes only in the presence of ammonia. Deletion of amylase genes interferes with the conversion of starch to glucose. The acceleration of carbohydrate consumption and the conversion of starch into glucose benefit this invasive beetle-fungus complex. The nutrient consumption-compensation strategy mediated by tripartite beetle-fungus-bacterium aids the maintenance of this invasive mutualism under limited nutritional conditions, exacerbating its invasiveness with this competitive nutritional edge.