Evidence for the health of bees found in their intestinal microbiome

Evidence for the health of bees found in their intestinal microbiome

Little carpenter bee on a flower. Credit: York University

The local environment plays a key role in the health and diversity of the wild bee’s gut microbiome, which could help detect invisible stressors and early indicators of potential threats, say researchers at York University in a new study.

Piloting a new frontier of metagenomics, researchers sequenced entire genomes of three species of carpenter bees, a species of wild bee, in North America, Asia and Australia. This analysis allowed them to get an idea of ​​the bees intestinal microbiome (bacteria and fungi), diet and viral load, as well as environmental DNA.

Unlike social bees (such as honey bees and bumble bees), the researchers found lone bees they get their microbiome, which is important for health, from the environment where they forge food, instead of inheriting it from their friends in the nest. Carpenter bees bury themselves in the stems of woody plants to lay eggs, not in hives.

“This can make them better bioindicators, as they are much more sensitive to the environment,” said Sandra Rehan, an associate professor at the Faculty of Science, author of the study. wild bee microbiomes “published today in the journal Biology of communications.

In Australia, local populations there were highly distinctive metagenomas and microbiomes; so much so that machine learning tools are able to reliably predict which population each bee is derived from.

The research team also found crop pathogens in the microbiomes of carpenter bees, which had previously been found only in honey bees.

“These pathogens are not necessarily harmful to bees, but these wild bees could potentially transmit diseases that could have a negative effect on agriculture,” Rehan said. Discovering how these pathogens spread in wild bees is important, as bees contribute to environmental and agricultural health worldwide in addition to more than $ 200 billion in annual agricultural services.

Establishing a starting point for what a healthy microbiome looks like in wild bees allows scientists to compare species from different continents and populations and understand how diseases and harmful microbiota are introduced and transmitted.

“We can really analyze the health of bees in a very systematic way population genetics and loads of parasitic pathogens, healthy microbiomes and abnormalities, “said Rehan, whose postdoctoral fellow, Wyatt Shell, led the study. The long-term goal is indeed to be able to use these tools so that we can also detect early signatures of stress and habitats in need of restoration or conservation. To develop it almost as a diagnostic tool for the health of bees. “

Evidence for the health of bees found in their intestinal microbiome

Ceratina japonica. Credit: York University

Researchers believe they have captured the basic microbiome of carpenter bees for the first time. They found beneficial bacteria in all three types of carpenter bees that helped with metabolic and genetic functions. They also discovered species lactobacilluswhich is a major group of beneficial bacteria, essential for good intestinal health and is found in most bee lines. lactobacillus can protect against predominant fungal pathogens, stimulate immune systemand facilitates absorption of nutrients.

However, a recently published article in the magazine Environmental DNA by Rehan and her graduate student Fuong Nguyen, Development of the microbiome of the little carpenter bee, Ceratina calcaratawho studied the microbiome in brood and adult carpenter bees in cities, found that lactobacillus.

“It raises red flags,” Rehan said. “We are continuing these studies to look at more nuanced urban, rural comparisons and long-term data to really understand these environmental stressors. Every time we characterize microbiome and to see deviations from what we know is normal can give us an indication of a population or a species at risk. “

Overall, the results show that metagenomic methods can provide an important picture of the ecology and health of wild bees in the future.

“We have piloted this research approach for several species, but we are trying to study dozens of wild bee species and wider comparisons are forthcoming. “These two studies really set the stage,” she said. “The long-term goal is really to be able to use these tools to detect early signs of stress in wild bees and thus identify habitats in need of restoration or conservation. We are excited to build the tools for a new era of wild bee research and conservation. ”

Maternal instincts lead to the social life of bees

More info:
Comparative metagenomics reveals expanded insights into intra- and interspecific variations 2 among wild bee microbiomes, Biology of communications (2022).

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York University

Quote: Evidence for the health of bees found in their intestinal microbiome (2022, June 17), extracted on June 17, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-clues-bee-health-gut -microbiome.html

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