Novel insights into insect-microbe interactions—role of Epigenomics and small RNAs

Dohyup Kim, Margaret W. Thairu, Allison K. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


It has become increasingly clear that microbes form close associations with the vast majority of animal species, especially insects. In fact, an array of diverse microbes is known to form shared metabolic pathways with their insect hosts. A growing area of research in insect-microbe interactions, notably for hemipteran insects and their mutualistic symbionts, is to elucidate the regulation of this inter-domain metabolism. This review examines two new emerging mechanisms of gene regulation and their importance in host-microbe interactions. Specifically, we highlight how the incipient areas of research on regulatory “dark matter” such as epigenomics and small RNAs, can play a pivotal role in the evolution of both insect and microbe gene regulation. We then propose specific models of how these dynamic forms of gene regulation can influence insect-symbiont-plant interactions. Future studies in this area of research will give us a systematic understanding of how these symbiotic microbes and animals reciprocally respond to and regulate their shared metabolic processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1164
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Issue numberAUG2016
StatePublished - Aug 4 2016


  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenomics
  • Insect-plant interactions
  • Small RNAs
  • Symbiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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