Cascading effects of defensive endosymbionts.


Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3PS, United Kingdom. Electronic address: [Email]


Defensive endosymbionts are now understood to be widespread among insects, targeting many different threats, including predators, parasites and disease. The effects on natural enemies can be significant, resulting in dramatic changes in the outcome of interactions between insects and their attackers. Evidence is now emerging from laboratory and field work that defensive symbionts can have important effects on the surrounding insect community, as well as on vulnerable enemy species; for example, by reducing prey available for the trophic level above the enemy. However, there is a need for more experimental work across a greater taxonomic range of species in order to understand the different ways in which defensive symbionts influence insect communities.

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