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Maternal transmission of bacterial symbionts in the desert locust
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  • Omer Lavy,
  • Uri Gophna,
  • Amir Ayali,
  • Shalev Gihaz,
  • Ayelet Fishman,
  • Eran Gefen
Omer Lavy
Tel Aviv University
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Uri Gophna
Tel Aviv University
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Amir Ayali
Tel Aviv University
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Shalev Gihaz
Technion Israel Institute of Technology
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Ayelet Fishman
Technion Israel Institute of Technology
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Eran Gefen
University of Haifa - Oranim
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Abstract

Long-scale, multi-generational migration is instrumental in the devastating potential of locust swarms as a major agricultural pest. Gut bacterial symbionts have been shown to augment locust immunity, and to support locust swarming via the emission of attracting volatile compounds. To date, however, it is unclear whether and how those beneficial symbionts are transmitted vertically through generations. Using comparative 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and genetically- engineered bacteria, we demonstrate here for the first time transgenerational-transmission of gut bacteria in the desert locust, as well as its underling mechanism: females inoculate bacteria into the egg pod’s foam-plug, through which larvae pass upon hatching. in addition to chitin, which is its primarily component, we show the foam to also contain bactericidal proteins, such as lysozyme that select for specific bacteria. These findings reveal for the first time the mode of transgenerational-transmission of symbionts in locusts, potentially contributing to the swarms’ migratory success.