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Diversity, ecology and biotechnological potential of the symbiotic bacteriofauna associated with insects

Grant number: 13/23155-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2014
Effective date (End): January 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Plant Health
Principal Investigator:Fernando Luis Cônsoli
Grantee:Ana Flávia Canovas Martinez
Host Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:11/50877-0 - Diversity, ecology and biotechnological potential of the symbiotic bacteriofauna associated with insects, AP.BTA.TEM


Insects are well known organisms by their abundance and correspond to more than half of the biological diversity in Earth. The species richness and the diversity of modes of life of insects are a result of a series of adaptations during their evolutionary history, but the diversification in their life histories were quite influenced by their association with symbiotic microorganisms. Insect symbionts allowed insects to 1) exploit unsuitable or low quality nutritional resources (cellulose, hairs, keratin), 2) recycle nitrogen, 3) degrade defensive plant secondary compounds, and yet 4) to provide protection to insects against pathogens and entomophages. The diversity of relationships insects and symbionts established indicate a insects harbors a rich microbiota. The diversity of microbes and the different roles they may play points to the existence of key bioecological processes of insects, such as development, growth, nutrition, immune defense, host utilization, among other, that may all be influenced by their associated microbiota. Therefore, given the large number of interactions among insects and their symbionts, the microbiota associated with insects represents an almost untapped source of bioactive molecules for biotechnological exploitation in Agriculture and Medicine, as also indicated in our initial research (see FAPESP 2007/59019-1). In this project, we propose to investigate the diversity of bacteria associated with different species of insects, establish several ecological aspects of their interactions with their insect hosts and to search molecules (enzymes, antibiotics, insecticides) for biotechnological exploitation. Enzymes are expected to serve in the 1) hydrolysis of lignocellulose for ethanol production or 2) in the degradation of pesticides for bioremediation programs. Antibiotics will be sought against several antibiotic-resistant pathogens to human, while molecules with insectice activity will have insect pests as a target.

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