Open Access Open Badges Research article

Endosymbiont diversity among sibling weevil species competing for the same resource

Adrien Merville12*, Samuel Venner1, Hélène Henri1, Agnès Vallier2, Frédéric Menu1, Fabrice Vavre1, Abdelaziz Heddi2 and Marie-Claude Bel-Venner1*

Author Affiliations

1 Université de Lyon, Université Lyon 1, CNRS, UMR5558, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, Villeurbanne, France

2 INSA-Lyon, UMR203 BF2I, INRA, Biologie Fonctionnelle Insectes et Interactions, Bat. L. Pasteur 20 ave A. Einstein, Villeurbanne, France

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:28  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-28

Published: 4 February 2013



Whereas the impact of endosymbionts on the ecology of their hosts is well known in some insect species, the question of whether host communities are influenced by endosymbionts remains largely unanswered. Notably, the coexistence of host species competing with each other, which is expected to be stabilized by their ecological differences, could be facilitated by differences in their endosymbionts. Yet, the composition of endosymbiotic communities housed by natural communities of competing host species is still almost unknown. In this study, we started filling this gap by describing and comparing the bacterial endosymbiotic communities of four sibling weevil species (Curculio spp.) that compete with each other to lay eggs into oak acorns (Quercus spp.) and exhibit marked ecological differences.


All four species housed the primary endosymbiont Candidatus Curculioniphilus buchneri, yet each of these had a clearly distinct community of secondary endosymbionts, including Rickettsia, Spiroplasma, and two Wolbachia strains. Notably, three weevil species harbored their own predominant facultative endosymbiont and possessed the remaining symbionts at a residual infection level.


The four competing species clearly harbor distinct endosymbiotic communities. We discuss how such endosymbiotic communities could spread and keep distinct in the four insect species, and how these symbionts might affect the organization and species richness of host communities.

Endosymbiosis; Host community; Curculio; Oak weevil; Infection pattern; Niche partitioning; Field study