Following cultivation-dependent and -independent techniques, we investigated the microbiota associated with Bactrocera oleae, one of the major agricultural pests in olive-producing countries. Bacterial 16S rRNA gene libraries and ultrastructural analyses revealed the presence of several bacterial taxa associated with this insect, among which Acetobacter tropicalis was predominant. The recent increased detection of acetic acid bacteria as symbionts of other insect model organisms, such as Anopheles stephensi (G. Favia et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:9047-9051,2007) or Drosophila melanogaster (C. R. Cox and M. S. Gilmore, Infect. Immun. 75:1565-1576, 2007), prompted us to investigate the association established between A. tropicalis and B. oleae. Using an A. tropicalis-specific PCR assay, the symbiont was detected in all insects tested originating from laboratory stocks or field-collected from different locations in Greece. This acetic acid bacterium was successfully established in cell-free medium, and typing analyses, carried out on a collection of isolates, revealed that different A. tropicalis strains are present in fly populations. The capability to colonize and lodge in the digestive system of both larvae and adults and in Malpighian tubules of adults was demonstrated by using a strain labeled with a green fluorescent protein. Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
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