Metazoans form symbioses with microorganisms that synthesize essential nutritional compounds and increase their efficiency to digest and absorb nutrients. Despite the growing awareness that microbes within the gut play key roles in metabolism, health and development of metazoans, symbiotic relationships within the gut are far from fully understood. Insects, which generally harbor a lower microbial diversity than vertebrates, have recently emerged as potential model systems to study these interactions. In this review, we give a brief overview of the characteristics of the gut microbiota in insects in terms of low diversity but high variability at intra- and interspecific levels and we investigate some of the ecological and methodological factors that might explain such variability. We then emphasize how studies integrating an array of techniques and disciplines have the potential to provide new understanding of the biology of this micro eco-system.
- Gut microbiota