Behaviour 2019
Parental Care Alters the Egg Microbiome of Maritime Earwigs
Andy Zink, Jordan Greer, Vance Vredenburg, Andrea Swei. San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, United States

Recruitment of beneficial microbes to protect offspring is now recognized as an important component of parental care in many animals. Studies on earwigs (order Dermaptera) have revealed that removal of females from egg tending increases mortality of eggs due to fungal infections, possibly caused by changes in the bacterial microbiome on the egg surface. We used a controlled female-removal experiment to evaluate whether female nest attendance in the maritime earwig, Anisolabis maritima, influences the bacterial microbiome on the egg surface. Bacterial operational taxonomic unit (OTU) richness and diversity were both significantly higher for female attended versus unattended eggs. The core microbiome of adult females contained bacteria which have the potential to carry anti-fungal characteristics; these bacteria were found in higher presence and relative abundance on eggs where females were allowed to provide care. These results demonstrate that female egg attendance significantly impacts the bacterial microbiome of A. maritima eggs, and identifies specific bacteria within the egg microbiome that should be investigated further for beneficial anti-fungal properties in this system.