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Open AccessArticle

Comparative Mortality and Adaptation of a Smurf Assay in Two Species of Tenebrionid Beetles Exposed to Bacillus thuringiensis

Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Hüfferstraße 1, 48149 Münster, Germany
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Both authors contributed equally to this work.
Insects 2020, 11(4), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040261
Received: 25 March 2020 / Revised: 20 April 2020 / Accepted: 21 April 2020 / Published: 24 April 2020
Bacillus thuringiensis is a spore-forming bacterium which infects insect larvae naturally via the oral route. Its virulence factors interact with the epithelium of the digestive tract of insect larvae, disrupting its function and eventually leading to the death of susceptible hosts. The most cited B. thuringiensis killing mechanism is the extensive damage caused to the insect midgut, leading to its leakage. The mortality caused by B. thuringiensis has been shown to vary between serovars and isolates, as well as between host life stages. Moreover, whether susceptibility to B. thuringiensis-induced gut leakage is generalized to all host species and whether there is individual variation within species is unclear. In this study, we adapted a non-invasive “Smurf” assay from Drosophila melanogaster to two species of tenebrionid beetles: The mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor and the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, during exposure to B. thuringiensis. We highlight a differential mortality between two age/size classes of T. molitor larvae, as well as different killing dynamics between B. thuringiensis var. tenebrionis and var. tolworthi in T. castaneum. The Smurf assay did not reveal a high occurrence of extensive gut disintegration in both host species upon ingestion during B. thuringiensis exposure. View Full-Text
Keywords: Bacillus thuringiensis tenebrionis; Bacillus thuringiensis tolworthi; Tenebrio molitor; Tribolium castaneum; Smurf assay; oral infection Bacillus thuringiensis tenebrionis; Bacillus thuringiensis tolworthi; Tenebrio molitor; Tribolium castaneum; Smurf assay; oral infection
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Zanchi, C.; Lindeza, A.S.; Kurtz, J. Comparative Mortality and Adaptation of a Smurf Assay in Two Species of Tenebrionid Beetles Exposed to Bacillus thuringiensis. Insects 2020, 11, 261.

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