Image showing carpenter bee

The bees’ intestinal microbiome provides clues about their health

Bees are a very versatile and critical group of pollinators. There is evidence that beneficial and harmful microbiota can be regularly transmitted within and between species. Metagenomic analyzes provide extensive insights into an organism’s microbiome, diet and viral load, but remain largely unapplied in wild bees.

In a new study, researchers from York University presented metagenomic data from three species of carpenter’s samples sampled around the world. Using a combination of machine learning, coexistence, and network analysis, they found that metagenomers for wild bees are unique to host species.

In addition, the study revealed that the local environment significantly affects the health and variety of wild bee gut microbiome, which can help detect invisible strains and early indicators of potential hazards.

Unlike social bees (such as honey bees and bumblebees), solitary bees are found to get their microbiome from their environment, where they hunt for food instead of inheriting it from their book mates. Carpenters dig into woody stalks to lay eggs rather than in hives.

Faculty of Science Associate Professor Sandra Rehan, corresponding author of the research, said: “This can make them better bioindicators because they are much more sensitive to their environment. Comparative metagenomics reveals increased insights into intra- and interspecific variation among wild bimicrobios.”

Local populations in Australia have unique metagenomics and microbiomes, where machine learning methods could consistently predict which population each bee came from.

Researchers were also able to detect plant pathogens in carpenter’s microbiome. These pathogens previously existed only in honey bee.

Rehan said, “These pathogens are not necessarily harmful to bees, but these wild bees can potentially spread diseases that can adversely affect agriculture. Finding out how these pathogens spread in wild bees is important because bees contribute to ecological and agricultural health worldwide and more than $ 200 billion in annual agricultural services. “

Researchers can compare species across continents and communities and find out how diseases and harmful bacteria are introduced and transmitted by establishing a baseline for what a healthy microbiome looks like in wild bees.

Rehan said, “We can dissect bee health systematically by looking at population genetics and parasitic pathogen loads, healthy microbiomes and abnormalities. The long-term goal is actually to be able to use these tools to also detect early signs of stress and habitats in need of restoration or conservation. To develop it almost as a diagnostic tool for bee health. “

According to researchers, this is the first time someone has mapped the nuclear microbiome of carpenters. A beneficial bacterium is found in all three carpenter species that help with metabolic and genetic functions. They also discovered Lactobacillus species, an important beneficial bacterial group that is absolutely essential for good intestinal health and is found in most car lines. Lactobacillus can protect against common fungal pathogens, strengthen the immune system and facilitate nutrient uptake.

Rihan said, “We have piloted this research method on a few species, but we aim to study dozens of wild bee species, and broader comparisons are coming. These two studies lay the foundation. The long-term goal is actually to be able to use these tools to detect early signs of stress in wild bees and thereby identify habitats in need of restoration or conservation. We are happy to build the tools for a new era of research and conservation of wild bees. ”

Journal reference:

  1. Comparative metagenomics reveals expanded insights into intra- and interspecific variation two among wild bimicrobiomas, Communications Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s42003-022-03535-1


#bees #intestinal #microbiome #clues #health

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