Evidence that symbiotic microorganisms can impact the development and fitness of insects has been shown in many species. Hemolymph-associated symbiotic bacteria have been identified in larvae of Solenopsis invicta Buren, the red imported fire ant; however, their association with adult red imported fire ants and the mode by which these organisms are transmitted from queens to offspring are not well known. In this study, Bacillus spp. bacteria were routinely recovered in the hemolymph of queen S. invicta. Genetic analysis of the 16S gene confirmed the most common bacteria isolated were Bacillus spp.; several Staphylococcus species were also collected. Ovaries from reproductive and nonreproductive queens, freshly laid eggs, first-instar larvae, and hemolymph were collected from queens and analyzed for the presence of specific Bacillus spp. bacteria. It was indicated that these bacteria may be transmitted vertically from queen to progeny.
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