The bacterial and fungal nest microbiomes in populations of the social spider Stegodyphus dumicola

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Social spiders of the species Stegodyphus dumicola live in communal nests with hundreds of individuals and are characterized by extremely low species-wide genetic diversity. The lack of genetic diversity in combination with group living imposes a potential threat for infection by pathogens. We therefore proposed that specific microbial symbionts inhabiting the spider nests may provide antimicrobial defense. To compare the bacterial and fungal diversity in 17 nests from three different locations in Namibia, we used 16S rRNA gene and internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) sequencing. The nest microbiomes differed between geographically distinct spider populations and appeared largely determined by the local environment. Nevertheless, we identified a core microbiome consisting of four bacterial genera (Curtobacterium, Modestobacter, Sphingomonas, Massilia) and four fungal genera (Aureobasidium, Didymella, Alternaria, Ascochyta), which likely are selected from surrounding soil and plants by the nest environment. We did not find indications for a strain- or species-specific symbiosis in the nests. Isolation of bacteria and fungi from nest material retrieved a few bacterial strains with antimicrobial activity but a number of antimicrobial fungi, including members of the fungal core microbiome. The significance of antimicrobial taxa in the nest microbiome for host protection remains to be shown.

TidsskriftSystematic and Applied Microbiology
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2021


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