Data from: Unearthing carrion beetles’ microbiome: characterization of bacterial and fungal hindgut communities across the Silphidae
Kaltenpoth, Martin; Steiger, Sandra (2013), Data from: Unearthing carrion beetles’ microbiome: characterization of bacterial and fungal hindgut communities across the Silphidae, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2m854
Carrion beetles (Coleoptera, Silphidae) are well known for their behaviour of exploiting vertebrate carcasses for nutrition. While species in the subfamily Silphinae feed on large carcasses and on larvae of competing scavengers, the Nicrophorinae are unique in monopolizing, burying and defending small carrion, and providing extensive biparental care. As a first step towards investigating whether microbial symbionts may aid in carcass utilization or defence, we characterized the microbial hindgut communities of six Nicrophorinae (Nicrophorus spp.) and two Silphinae species (Oiceoptoma noveboracense and Necrophila americana) by deep ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing. Across all species, bacteria in the family Xanthomonadaceae, related to Ignatzschineriao larvae, were consistently common, and several other taxa were present in lower abundance (Enterobacteriales, Burkholderiales, Bacilli, Clostridiales and Bacteroidales). Additionally, the Nicrophorinae showed high numbers of unusual Clostridiales, while the Silphinae were characterized by Flavobacteriales and Rhizobiales (Bartonella sp.). In addition to the complex community of bacterial symbionts, each species of carrion beetle harboured a diversity of ascomycetous yeasts closely related to Yarrowia lipolytica. Despite the high degree of consistency in microbial communities across the Silphidae—specifically within the Nicrophorinae—both the fungal symbiont phylogeny and distance-based bacterial community clustering showed higher congruence with sampling locality than host phylogeny. Thus, despite the possibility for vertical transmission via anal secretions, the distinct hindgut microbiota of the Silphidae appears to be shaped by frequent horizontal exchange or environmental uptake of symbionts. The microbial community profiles, together with information on host ecology and the metabolic potential of related microorganisms, allow us to propose hypotheses on putative roles of the symbionts in carcass degradation, detoxification and defence.