Host-microbe interactions in arthropods

Microbial symbionts, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, can have a profound impact on the behavior, ecology and evolution of arthropods, as they can affect the food-plant compatibility(1, 2), reproduction(3) and health of their host.

By investigating the microbiome of arthropods (4), the host specificity of parasites (5), effects of infections on host sexual behaviors and chemical communication channels, as well as the molecular-physiological mechanisms underlying these interactions, we aim to understand how host–microbe interactions affect arthropod population dynamics, community structure and evolution.

Scientists involved in this research

Hans Breeuwer
Merijn Kant
Emily Burdfield-Steel
Teun Boekhout
Gerard Oostermeijer
Astrid Groot


  1. Immune modulation enables a specialist insect to benefit from antibacterial properties

    Barthel A, Vogel H, Pauchet Y, Pauls G, Kunert G, Groot AT, Boland W, Heckel DG, Heidel-Fischer HM. 2016.. Nature Communications 7: 12530.

  2. Independent effects of a herbivore’s bacterial symbionts on its performance and induced plant defences

    Staudacher H, Schimmel BCJ, Lamers MM, Wybouw N, Groot AT, Kant MR. 2017. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 18: 182

  3. The endosymbionts Wolbachia and Cardinium and their effects in three populations of the predatory mite Neoseiulus paspalivorus

    Sourassou NF, Hanna R, Breeuwer JAJ, Negloh K, de Moraes GJ, Sabelis MW. 2014. . Experimental and Applied Acarology, 64(2), 207-221.

  4. Variability of bacterial communities in the moth Heliothis virescens indicates transient association with the host

    Staudacher H, Kaltenpoth M, Breeuwer JAJ, Menken SBJ, Heckel DG, Groot AT. 2016. Plos One 11, e0154514.

  5. Parasite-host specificity: A cross-infection study of the parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha.

    Gao K, Muijderman D, Nichols S, Heckel DG, Wang P, Zalucki MP, Groot AT. 2020. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 170.