Antibiotics in Their Guts

Similar to other species, black soldier flies have a complicated relationship with a wide variety of microorganisms living both inside and outside of their bodies. These relationships may affect many different parameters, including both their ability to thrive in a particular environment, as well as their performance as waste decomposers. A recent study investigated whether several common antibiotics have an impact on gut bacteria of black soldier flies. Not surprisingly, such an impact was found.

Ruan, L., Ye, K., Wang, Z., Xiong, A., Qiao, R., Zhang, J., Huang, Z., Cai, M. and Yu, C., 2024. Characteristics of gut bacterial microbiota of black soldier fly (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) larvae effected by typical antibiotics. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 270, 115861. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2023.115861

As agents in an emerging technology, Hermetia illucens (Linnaeus, 1758) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) larvae, black soldier fly, have shown exciting potential for degrading antibiotics in organic solid waste, a process for which gut microorganisms play an important role. This study investigated the characteristics of larval gut bacterial communities effected by typical antibiotics. Initially, antibiotics significantly reduced the diversity of gut bacterial species. After 8 days, diversity recovered to similar to that of the control group in the chlortetracycline, tylosin, and sulfamethoxazole groups. Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteriota were the dominant phyla at the initial BSFL gut. However, after 4 days treatment, the proportion of Actinobacteriota significantly decreased, but Bacteroidota notably increased. During the conversion process, 18, 18, 17, 21, and 19 core genera were present in the chlortetracycline, sulfamethoxazole, tylosin, norfloxacin, and gentamicin groups, respectively. Pseudomonas, Actinomyces, Morganella, Providencia and Klebsiella might be the important genera with extraordinary resistance and degradation to antibiotics. Statistical analyses of COGs showed that antibiotics changed the microbial community functions of BSFL gut. Compared with the control group, (i) the chlortetracycline, sulfamethoxazole, and tylosin groups showed significant increase in the classification functions of transcription, RNA processing and modification,and so on, (ii) the norfloxacin and gentamicin groups showed significant increase in defense mechanisms and other functions. Note that we categorized the response mechanisms of these classification functions to antibiotics into resistance and degradation. This provides a new perspective to deeply understand the joint biodegradation behavior of antibiotics in environments, and serves as an important reference for further development and utilization of microorganisms-assisted larvae for efficient degradation of antibiotics.