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Bacterial infection increases reproductive investment in burying beetles

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/10/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Insects
Issue number6
Volume2015
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)926-942
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The Nicrophorus genus lives and breeds in a microbe rich environment. As such, it would be expected that strategies should be in place to counter potentially negative effects of the microbes common to this environment. In this study, we show the response of Nicrophorus vespilloides to the common soil bacterium, Bacillus subtilis. Phenoloxidase (PO) levels are not upregulated in response to the challenge and the bacteria are observed to multiply within the haemolymph of the host. Despite the growth of B. subtilis, survival is not affected, either in virgin or in breeding beetles. Some limit on bacterial growth in the haemolymph does seem to be occurring, suggesting mechanisms of resistance, in addition to tolerance mechanisms. Despite limited detrimental effects on the individual, the challenge by Bacillus subtilis appears to act as a cue to increase reproductive investment. The challenge may indicate a suite of negative environmental conditions that could compromise future breeding opportunities. This could act as a cue to increase parental investment in the current bout.