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Insects 2015, 6(4), 926-942;

Bacterial Infection Increases Reproductive Investment in Burying Beetles

School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, MBC, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
Department of Entomology, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa 36570-900, Brazil
School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln LN6 7TS, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Brian T. Forschler
Received: 10 August 2015 / Revised: 22 October 2015 / Accepted: 26 October 2015 / Published: 30 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Parasite-Insect Interactions)
PDF [874 KB, uploaded 18 November 2015]


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: bacteria; ecological immunology; insect; lysozyme; Nicrophorus; parental care; phenoloxidase; reproduction; survival; tolerance bacteria; ecological immunology; insect; lysozyme; Nicrophorus; parental care; phenoloxidase; reproduction; survival; tolerance

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Reavey, C.E.; Silva, F.W.S.; Cotter, S.C. Bacterial Infection Increases Reproductive Investment in Burying Beetles. Insects 2015, 6, 926-942.

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