Competition between scavengers and microorganisms for the nutrients within carrion is well documented. As a significant contributor to food web energetics, carrion serves not only as a food source for scavengers, but also as a reproductive resource for many insects. One example are the burying beetles of the Nicrophorus genus (Coleoptera: Silphidae) whose reproduction is dependent on locating and successfully sequestering vertebrate carrion. Throughout the cooperative preparation of carrion and feeding of the larval offspring, parental beetles coat the carrion with oral and anal secretions known to attenuate the growth of molds and bacteria in the laboratory. We test the hypotheses that Nicrophorus secretions attenuate the growth of naturally occurring microorganisms likely to be found colonizing the carrion resource, and that the active antimicrobial components of the secretions are small antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) similar to those produced by other insects.
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