Bacterial protection of beetle-fungus mutualism
The pervasiveness of beneficial associations between symbiotic microbes and plants and animals in every ecosystem illustrates how the acquisition of a microbe’s physiological capacity confers substantial fitness benefits to hosts (1). However, dependence on mutualistic microbes becomes a liability if antagonistic microbes attack or outcompete beneficial ones (2). Therefore, mechanisms to preserve beneficial microbes must be a widespread, although poorly understood, component of host-microbe mutualisms. We show that a beetle uses a bacterium to protect its fungal food source from a competitor fungus.
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