TitleChanges in amount of bacteria during gut passage of leaf litter and during coprophagy in three species of Bibionidae (Diptera) larvae
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsFrouz, J, Kristufek, V, Li, X, Santruckova, H, Sustr, V, Brune, A
JournalFolia Microbiologica

To elucidate the interaction between bacteria and saprophagous Diptera larvae, the amounts of bacteria in leaf litter, individual gut compartments, and feces of three species of Bibionidae (Bibio pomonae, Bibio marci, and Penthetria holosericea), feeding either directly on leaf litter or on fecal pellets produced from leaf litter by larvae of the same species, were assessed by determining total direct counts and viable counts on solid media at different pH. In P. holosericea, the effect of various cultivation temperatures on direct counts of bacteria in individual compartments was also demonstrated. In all species, the amount of bacteria in the anterior mesenteron was lower than in the consumed food, regardless of whether the larvae were feeding on leaf litter or feces, and increased again in the posterior part of the gut. The amount of bacteria in these compartments was generally higher in larvae feeding on feces than in those feeding on leaf litter, whereas the amount of bacteria found in the ceca varied. In B. marci, the amount of bacteria in the mesenteron sections able to grow on alkaline medium (pH 9) was higher than that of bacteria able to grow on slightly acidic medium (pH 5.5) during both the first and the second gut passage. In B. pomonae and P. holosericea, this increase was observed only during the second gut passage. The effect of gut passage in P. holosericea on changes in direct counts of bacteria was more pronounced when the larvae were fed at 5 degreesC as compared to 20 degreesC. Radiolabeled bacteria were digested in the gut and utilized as a source of energy and nutrients by the larvae; digested bacteria represented up to 10 % of the material assimilated by the larvae. Lysozyme activity in whole-gut extracts of P. holosericea had a pH optimum of at pH 7, indicating a low in situ activity in the alkaline mesenteron. Proteinase activity, however, had an optimum at pH > 12, suggesting that the digestion of bacteria in the bibionid gut is caused by a combination of digestive proteinases and alkaline pH in the anterior mesenteron.