The gut of the soil microarthropod Folsomia candida (Collembola) is a frequently changeable but selective habitat and a vector for microorganisms

Torsten Thimm, Andrea Hoffmann, Heinz Borkott, Jean Charles Munch, Christoph C. Tebbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Interaction potentials between soil microarthropods and microorganisms were investigated with Folsomia candida (Insecta, Collembola) in microcosm laboratory experiments. Microscopic analysis revealed that the volumes of the simple, rod-shaped guts of adult specimens varied with their feeding activity, from 0.7 to 11.2 nl. A dense layer of bacterial cells, associated with the peritrophic membrane, was detected in the midgut by scanning electron microscopy. Depending on the molting stage, which occurred at intervals of approximately 4 days, numbers of heterotrophic, aerobic gut bacteria changed from 4.9 x 102 to 2.3 x 106 CFU per specimen. A total of 11 different taxonomic bacterial groups and the filamentous fungus Acremonium charticola were isolated from the guts of five F. candida specimens. The most abundant isolate was related to Erwinia amylovora (96.2% DNA sequence similarity to its 16S rRNA gene). F. candida preferred to feed on Pseudomonas putida and three indigenous gut isolates rather than eight different type culture strains. When luciferase reporter gene-tagged bacterial strains were pulse fed to F. candida, gut isolates were continuously shed for 8 days to several weeks but Escherichia coli HB101 was shed for only 1 day. Ratios of ingested to released bacterial cells demonstrated that populations of nonindigenous gut bacteria like Sinorhizobium meliloti L33 and E. coli HB101 were reduced by more than 4 orders of magnitude but that the population of gut isolate Alcaligenes faecalis HR4 was reduced only 500-fold. This work demonstrates that F. candida represents a frequently changeable but selective habitat for bacteria in terrestrial environments and that microarthropods have to be considered factors that modify soil microbial communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2660-2669
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes


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