Insect-microbe symbiosis in Nezara viridula

Wednesday 3 July 2024, 12:30 pm
PhD candidate
M.A. Rogowska MSc.
dr. C.U. Welte
dr. R.S. Jansen

Throughout evolution, insects have developed exceptional adaptive capabilities by forming symbiotic relationships with microbes, which are often crucial for their survival. Among shield bugs, such as the Southern green shield bug Nezara viridula, mutualistic interactions with bacteria are common and contribute significantly to the insect’s ecological success. N. viridula is a piercing and sucking insect that relies on symbionts for nutrient supplementation. It is a highly invasive species with a broad dietary range across many plant families and its global spread results in significant agricultural losses. Recent studies showed that the shield bug microbiota can manipulate plant defences, affecting pest insect damage potential, however, the role of N. viridula microbiota remains unexplored. In this PhD thesis, the knowledge gaps in the insect-microbe symbiosis field were addressed and aimed to understand the role and relationship between N. viridula and its associated microbes. Our research revealed that N. viridula has a simple and stable microbiota which participates in digestion, nutrient provision, detoxification and repression of plant toxins which is detrimental to the development of sustainable pest control strategies. This study laid a solid foundation for future research in the area of insect-microbe interactions and their application for agricultural practices and pest management.

Magda Rogowska-van der Molen was born on September 6th 1994 in Olsztyn, Poland. There she attended XII Academic High School from which she graduated in 2013 and continued to study Biotechnology at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. Magda received her Bachelor of Engineering degree in 2017 and then moved to the Netherlands to pursue a Master’s degree in Biotechnology at Wageningen University & Research. During her Master’s she found passion in studying microbes in food and agriculture. She conducted her thesis at the Food Microbiology department in Wageningen where she studied ways to develop fermented infant formula. Afterwards, she moved to the Wetsus Research Centre in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands to explore microbes in wastewater treatment plants and the possibilities to use them as natural flocculants. Through her experience in working with microbes, Magda was hired as a PhD Candidate at the Microbiology department at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands under Dr. Cornelia Welte with co-supervision of Dr. Robert Jansen. She studied the microbiota of pest insect Nezara viridula and her PhD research findings are presented in the current thesis. Soon, she will become a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where she will continue research in the field of host-microbe interactions.