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Internal Organisms May Provide Assistance to Bees Against External Threats


The microorganisms in bees’ guts offer the potential to improve health. Image credit: . Credit: CC0 via Unsplash

Awareness is growing around the world of the critical role that bees and other pollinators play in maintaining natural habitats and securing food supplies. In the run-up to World Bee Day on May 20, Horizon Magazine It takes a closer look at how the bee’s gut microbiota is key to ensuring the future of insects and the planet.

with Three-quarters of the world’s food crops Depending on pollinators to some extent, ensuring the well-being of these resourceful insects as they face habitat loss, pollution and pesticides will be key to improving food provision in the years to come.

honey bee

For bees as well as humans, a healthy digestive system can go a long way toward promoting longevity. That’s why researchers are studying the mysterious internal microbiome in bees’ guts to learn more about their resistance to disease and how best to protect against disease.

“The gut microbiota is important for protecting bees from pathogens,” said Dr. Amelie Cabirol, a postdoctoral researcher on honey bee health at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. “We need to understand all the determinants of the bee’s physiology to be able to say ‘This is a healthy bee’s ID card.'” ”

In the world of honeybees average age It can range from eight weeks to five years depending on the type of bee. Worker bees die within months while the queen bee can live for years.

The gut of honeybees is relatively easy to study because it is dominated by specialized communities of only about nine species of bacteria. This means they can serve as a good basis for learning more about the microbiomes of other species as well, including humans.

Some pesticides and herbicides affect bees’ gut microbiota. Insecticides called neonicotinoids are often implicated in pollinator declines. While their outdoor use was banned in the European Union in 2018, exceptions have been granted before Recent attempts to end the practice.

Changes to the bee’s gut aren’t always fatal, but they can still impede the ability to pollinate.

Bacterial association with memory

“There is increasing evidence that having a disturbed gut microbiota will affect bees’ learning and memory performance,” Capirol said. “These cognitive abilities are important for bees to associate odors with the nectar they get from flowers and thus remember the best food sources in their environment.”

the Harmony The project I worked on investigating the gut health of bees using genetic sequencing and studying small molecules involved in intracellular metabolism. The initiative ran from May 2020 until October 2022.

Capirol’s team found that honey bees Learn and save information better when their gut contained five basic bacteria than when it contained only one or none.

This indicates that performance is enhanced by interactions between microbial species. The next step would be to test different combinations to determine what happens.

“Now, we can only say that each microbial organ on its own is not sufficient to enhance these cognitive abilities, but we cannot yet say whether each organ is essential for this,” Capirol said.

despite of Recent research Noting that honeybees have been on the rise over the past decades, she said that individual colonies are still suffering heavy losses and hopes HarmHoney’s findings can be applied to other threatened bee species.

For example, studies Conducted by colleagues at the University of Lausanne, they are beginning to reveal more about the diversity in the gut microbiomes of so-called stingless bees.

The relative ease of studying honeybees as a result of factors such as their global reach make them good test cases, according to Capirol.

“Honey bee colony losses raise the alarm that other unmanaged bee populations may be experiencing similar pressures,” she said. “Understanding the causes of colony collapse is critical to identifying stressors that may affect all pollinators, and should help improve agricultural and beekeeping practices.”

Parasite problem

Among the stressors honeybees face are intestinal parasites such as Nosema ceranae, which have become spread globally.

Adult bees infected at a young age can cause difficulty digesting food for the rest of their lives. After-effects include a shorter lifespan and decreased colony health, population, and performance, which can eventually lead to colony death.

The antibiotic fumagillin has historically been used against Nosema species, but its use has been restricted in Europe as a result of bans on antibiotics in beekeeping and Some studies They wondered how well it actually did in Nosema ceranae. This calls for new methods of prevention.

“We have to find natural solutions that don’t cause problems for bees and the environment,” said Professor Diana Di Gioia, an agricultural microbiologist at the University of Bologna in Italy. “The concept is that if the host has an increased composition of beneficial bacteria, it can interact better with the parasites.”

I drove No problems A project investigating potential novel eco-friendly gut therapies to strengthen bees’ resistance to disease. The initiative, which began in 2018, has been extended beyond the March 2023 end date.

During the project, the team conducted DNA-based studies involving bacterial solutions and plant-derived products in the laboratory and in the field in Ireland, Italy, Malta and Argentina to study their effectiveness under varying climates and levels of infection.

Secret formula

Researchers have found that a formula containing a mixture of two types of beneficial microorganisms appears to lead to: discount In Nosema Serrana.

The team has now developed a prototype formula based on probiotic microorganisms and plant-derived molecules. The idea is that this formula, which is being patented, can be fed to bees in their food and help improve the balance of their microbiota.

The hope is to run a follow-up project in which the preparation can be tested under different conditions and doses to refine it and determine the best application method.

Aside from the benefits to bees, research on them could be very useful for examining the gut microbiome and its evolution more broadly.

“With the honeybee, we have this powerful tool,” De Joya said. “It looks as if the bee was made as a model for examining the gut microbiota.”

Provided by Horizon: European Union Journal of Research and Innovation

the quote: Facing External Threats, Bees May Get Help from Internal Threats (2023, May 16) Retrieved May 16, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-external-threats-bees-internal. html

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