Digestive Enzyme of Bacterial Origin in Longhorned Beetles Has Appeared in Its Evolution

The primary habitat of long-horned beetle larvae is woody tissue, which is hard for most creatures to digest. But long-horned beetle larvae have unique enzymes that can disintegrate the different parts of the plant cell wall.

Recently, scientists have focused their attention on a set of digestive enzymes that are unique to this species of beetles.

They brought back the ancient enzymes, which first showed up in a longhorned beetle ancestor.

The enzyme of bacterial origin of long horned beetle


(Photo : CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Longhorned beetles were able to destroy the major components of the plant cell wall that make up the majority of their meal, thanks to ancient and recent gene duplications, horizontal gene transfer from bacteria to the beetle, and other processes, as per ScienceDaily.

Due to their feeding on the wood of dead trees and subsequent return of nutrients to the natural cycle, longhorned beetle larvae play a significant role in the ecosystems of forests.

Some long-horned beetle species’ larvae can even feed on the wood of still-growing trees, or grow inside of treated wood, which can result in significant economic harm.

By lignification, or the inclusion of lignin into the plant cell wall, wood is created.

The polysaccharides cellulose and xylan, as well as the polymer lignin, are the major components of wood, and are difficult for most organisms to decompose.

Longhorned beetles contain enzymes that help break down the components of plant cell walls, just like leaf beetles, weevils, and bark beetles do.

The researchers coupled evolutionary analysis with the production of massive amounts of functional data to provide an answer.

A thorough examination of the evolutionary history of this group of enzymes in long-horned beetles was produced by analyzing a total of 113 GH5 2 enzymes from 25 species.

The relationship between them revealed how they functioned, i.e., which polysaccharides they could break down.

At least four gene duplications gave rise to each gene.

The gene sequence of the original enzyme, which was transmitted from bacteria to an ancestor of modern long-horned beetles, was discovered by the researchers from comparative studies.

They investigated its effectiveness on a variety of significant plant cell wall polysaccharides after successfully expressing it in cell cells.

These studies provided crucial proof that the original cellulase enzyme was “promiscuous,” or it accelerated the conversion of additional substrates like xylan and glucomannan, in addition to breaking down cellulose.

According to the initial author, Na Ra Shin, this capability could have been a requirement before these enzymes evolved substrate specificity during gene duplication.

The capacity of insects to digest specific components of plant material indicates that horizontal gene transfer was extremely important in this process.

According to Yannick Pauchet, there is mounting evidence that the development of unique metabolic abilities through horizontal gene transfer was crucial to the evolution of many different creatures.

One of the most numerous and varied families of insects is the long-horned beetle.

The estimated more than 36,000 long-horned beetle species’ capacity to break down previously indigestible food and so create new habitats is undoubtedly a key factor in their evolutionary success.

Also Read: Pick-Up-Lines: Even for Beetles They’re all About Timing

Longhorned beetle

Any of the over 25,000 species of beetles (insect order Coleoptera) that go by the common name “longicorn” have very long antennae, as per Britannica.

Although these beetles are found all across the planet, the tropics are where they are most common.

They are between two and 152 mm (less than 1/8 and roughly six inches) in size.

When the antennas are added, their lengths might, however, increase by two or three times.

Many adults, like the European wasp Clytus arietes, visit flowers and have color patterns that resemble wasps in yellow, black, and orange.

Some tropical Clytus species look and act like ants.

The African Pterognatha gigas look like a patch of lichen or moss with a few antennae protruding.

Because the front portion of the chubby larva is stretched to give it a rounded look, the yellowish or white larvae are sometimes referred to as roundheaded borers.

The larva eats for up to two years on woody plants by boring into them with its powerful teeth. When the time is right, the larva creates a tunnel to the outside, pupates within the tree, and then emerges as a new adult through this tunnel.

Long-horned beetles may be major pests of timber and pulpwood trees, landscape trees, fruit trees, and woody ornamental plants due to their wood-boring behavior.

Related article: New Beetle Species Discovered in Bustling Metropolis

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