Temperature and food availability differentially affect the production of antimicrobial compounds in oral secretions produced by two species of burying beetle

Betty J. Jacques, Shusaku Akahane, Michiko Abe, Wendi Middleton, William W. Hoback, Julie J Shaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Carrion beetles of the subfamily Nicrophorinae search and bury a carcass that they utilize for reproduction. After burial, the carcass is coated with oral secretions that delay its decomposition. Previously, oral secretions of Nicrophorus marginatus were found to show antimicrobial activity, whereas secretion of N. carolinus lacked significant activity. Here, we tested the effects of temperature, sex of the beetle, and food type on the antimicrobial properties of oral secretions of both species. Unlike previous findings, we found that oral secretions of N. carolinus had antimicrobial activity. Temperature had significant effects on the amount of secretion protein. When protein concentrations were standardized to 1μ/ml, N. marginatus secretions had higher antimicrobial activity at cooler temperatures, while N. carolinus had higher activity at warmer ones. The sex of the beetle did not affect antimicrobial activity for either species. Beetles of both species that were fed whole rats contained more protein in their oral secretions than beetles fed with equally sized pieces of raw ground beef. After standardizing the resulting protein concentrations to 1μg/ml, antimicrobial activity of oral secretion increased for N. carolinus after rat feeding, but not for N. marginatus. Our results highlight key ecological differences between these closely related species. In addition, they demonstrate the importance of experiments being conducted under varying environmental conditions when evaluating species for potential antimicrobial compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-877
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Volume35
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 20 2009

Fingerprint

Beetles
food availability
secretion
mouth
beetle
anti-infective agents
Availability
Coleoptera
antimicrobial activity
Food
Temperature
Rats
temperature
Proteins
Beef
protein
Burial
Nicrophorus
Reproduction
Silphidae

Keywords

  • Antimicrobial secretion
  • Carrion beetle
  • Feeding
  • Nicrophorus carolinus
  • Nicrophorus marginatus
  • Sex
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry

Cite this

Temperature and food availability differentially affect the production of antimicrobial compounds in oral secretions produced by two species of burying beetle. / Jacques, Betty J.; Akahane, Shusaku; Abe, Michiko; Middleton, Wendi; Hoback, William W.; Shaffer, Julie J.

In: Journal of Chemical Ecology, Vol. 35, No. 8, 20.08.2009, p. 871-877.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jacques, Betty J. ; Akahane, Shusaku ; Abe, Michiko ; Middleton, Wendi ; Hoback, William W. ; Shaffer, Julie J. / Temperature and food availability differentially affect the production of antimicrobial compounds in oral secretions produced by two species of burying beetle. In: Journal of Chemical Ecology. 2009 ; Vol. 35, No. 8. pp. 871-877.
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