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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

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation , Synergy Grant [ NNF16OC0021110 ], the European Research Council [ ERC StG-2011_282163 ], and The Danish Council for Independent Research | Natural Sciences . The funding sources had no involvement in the design, data analysis or writing of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

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