Cannibalism as a possible entry route for opportunistic pathogenic bacteria to insect hosts, exemplified by pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen of the giant mealworm Zophobas morio

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Opportunistic bacteria are often ubiquitous and do not trigger disease in insects unless the conditions are specifically favorable for bacterial development in a suitable host. In this paper, we isolated and identified a bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, from the larvae of the giant mealworm Zophobas morio and we studied the possible entry routes by challenging larvae with per os injection and subdermal injection. We also evaluated the effect of exposing groups of larvae to P. aeruginosa inoculated in their feed and the effect of exposing wounded larvae to P. aeruginosa. We concluded that the mortality rate of Z. morio larvae is higher when P. aeruginosa gets in direct contact with the hemolymph via intracoelomic injection compared to a situation where the bacterium is force-fed. Larvae with an open wound exposed to P. aeruginosa presented higher mortality rate compared to larvae with a wound that was not exposed to the bacterium. We documented too, that cannibalism and scavenging was more prevalent among larvae in a group, when P. aeruginosa is present compared to when it is absent. We discuss hereby different aspects related with the pathogen’s entry routes to insects the complexity of pathogen’s transmission in high population densities and different ways to prevent and/or control P. aeruginosa in mass rearing systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number88
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1-15
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Bacterial infection, Cannibalism, Disease transmission, Entry route, Insect rearing, Opportunistic microorganism

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ID: 202936802