Insects host a highly diverse microbiome, which plays a crucial role in insect life. However, the composition and diversity of microbiomes associated with Neotropical freshwater insects is virtually unknown. In addition, the extent to which diversification of this microbiome is associated with host phylogenetic divergence remains to be determined. Here, we present the first comprehensive analysis of bacterial communities associated with six closely related species of Neotropical water striders in Panama. We used comparative phylogenetic analyses to assess associations between dominant bacterial linages and phylogenetic divergence among species of water striders. We found a total of 806 16S rRNA amplicon sequence variants (ASVs), with dominant bacterial taxa belonging to the phyla Proteobacteria (76.87%) and Tenericutes (19.51%). Members of the α- (e.g., Wolbachia
) and γ- (e.g., Acinetobacter
) Proteobacteria, and Mollicutes (e.g., Spiroplasma
) were predominantly shared across species, suggesting the presence of a core microbiome in water striders. However, some bacterial lineages (e.g., Fructobacillus
) were uniquely associated with different water strider species, likely representing a distinctive feature of each species’ microbiome. These findings indicate that both host identity and environmental context are important drivers of microbiome diversity in water striders. In addition, they suggest that diversification of the microbiome is associated with diversification in water striders. Although more research is needed to establish the evolutionary consequences of host-microbiome interaction in water striders, our findings support recent work highlighting the role of bacterial community host-microbiome codiversification.
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