Genome Sequences of Lactobacillus sp. Strains wkB8 and wkB10, Members of the Firm-5 Clade, from Honey Bee Guts.
ABSTRACT: We sequenced two strains from the Lactobacillus Firm-5 clade, a dominant group of symbionts in the guts of honey bees and other social bees. The genome of strain wkB8, comprising a 1.93-Mb chromosome and a 6.4-kb plasmid, was fully closed, while strain wkB10 was assembled into 32 contigs. These genomes will provide insights into how gut symbionts evolve and interact with their host species.
Project description:The honey bee is a key pollinator species in decline worldwide. As part of a commercial operation, bee colonies are exposed to a variety of agricultural ecosystems throughout the year and a multitude of environmental variables that may affect the microbial balance of individuals and the hive. While many recent studies support the idea of a core microbiota in guts of younger in-hive bees, it is unknown whether this core is present in forager bees or the pollen they carry back to the hive. Additionally, several studies hypothesize that the foregut (crop), a key interface between the pollination environment and hive food stores, contains a set of 13 lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that inoculate collected pollen and act in synergy to preserve pollen stores. Here, we used a combination of 454 based 16S rRNA gene sequencing of the microbial communities of forager guts, crops, and corbicular pollen and crop plate counts to show that (1) despite a very different diet, forager guts contain a core microbiota similar to that found in younger bees, (2) corbicular pollen contains a diverse community dominated by hive-specific, environmental or phyllosphere bacteria that are not prevalent in the gut or crop, and (3) the 13 LAB found in culture-based studies are not specific to the crop but are a small subset of midgut or hindgut specific bacteria identified in many recent 454 amplicon-based studies. The crop is dominated by Lactobacillus kunkeei, and Alpha 2.2 (Acetobacteraceae), highly osmotolerant and acid resistant bacteria found in stored pollen and honey. Crop taxa at low abundance include core hindgut bacteria in transit to their primary niche, and potential pathogens or food spoilage organisms seemingly vectored from the pollination environment. We conclude that the crop microbial environment is influenced by worker task, and may function in both decontamination and inoculation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Honey bees, Apis mellifera, face many parasites and pathogens and consequently rely on a diverse set of individual and group-level defenses to prevent disease. One route by which honey bees and other insects might combat disease is through the shielding effects of their microbial symbionts. Bees carry a diverse assemblage of bacteria, very few of which appear to be pathogenic. Here we explore the inhibitory effects of these resident bacteria against the primary bacterial pathogen of honey bees, Paenibacillus larvae. RESULTS: Here we isolate, culture, and describe by 16S rRNA and protein-coding gene sequences 61 bacterial isolates from honey bee larvae, reflecting a total of 43 distinct bacterial taxa. We culture these bacteria alongside the primary larval pathogen of honey bees, Paenibacillus larvae, and show that many of these isolates severely inhibit the growth of this pathogen. Accordingly, symbiotic bacteria including those described here are plausible natural antagonists toward this widespread pathogen. CONCLUSION: The results suggest a tradeoff in social insect colonies between the maintenance of potentially beneficial bacterial symbionts and deterrence at the individual and colony level of pathogenic species. They also provide a novel mechanism for recently described social components behind disease resistance in insect colonies, and point toward a potential control strategy for an important bee disease.
Project description:Honey bees face numerous biotic threats from viruses to bacteria, fungi, protists, and mites. Here we describe a thorough analysis of microbes harbored by worker honey bees collected from field colonies in geographically distinct regions of Turkey. Turkey is one of the World's most important centers of apiculture, harboring five subspecies of Apis mellifera L., approximately 20% of the honey bee subspecies in the world. We use deep ILLUMINA-based RNA sequencing to capture RNA species for the honey bee and a sampling of all non-endogenous species carried by bees. After trimming and mapping these reads to the honey bee genome, approximately 10% of the sequences (9-10 million reads per library) remained. These were then mapped to a curated set of public sequences containing ca. Sixty megabase-pairs of sequence representing known microbial species associated with honey bees. Levels of key honey bee pathogens were confirmed using quantitative PCR screens. We contrast microbial matches across different sites in Turkey, showing new country recordings of Lake Sinai virus, two Spiroplasma bacterium species, symbionts Candidatus Schmidhempelia bombi, Frischella perrara, Snodgrassella alvi, Gilliamella apicola, Lactobacillus spp.), neogregarines, and a trypanosome species. By using metagenomic analysis, this study also reveals deep molecular evidence for the presence of bacterial pathogens (Melissococcus plutonius, Paenibacillus larvae), Varroa destructor-1 virus, Sacbrood virus, and fungi. Despite this effort we did not detect KBV, SBPV, Tobacco ringspot virus, VdMLV (Varroa Macula like virus), Acarapis spp., Tropilaeleps spp. and Apocephalus (phorid fly). We discuss possible impacts of management practices and honey bee subspecies on microbial retinues. The described workflow and curated microbial database will be generally useful for microbial surveys of healthy and declining honey bees.
Project description:Honey bees are important insect pollinators used heavily in agriculture and can be found in diverse environments. Bees may encounter toxicants such as cadmium and selenate by foraging on plants growing in contaminated areas, which can result in negative health effects. Honey bees are known to have a simple and consistent microbiome that conveys many benefits to the host, and toxicant exposure may impact this symbiotic microbial community. We used 16S rRNA gene sequencing to assay the effects that sublethal cadmium and selenate treatments had over 7 days and found that both treatments significantly but subtly altered the composition of the bee microbiome. Next, we exposed bees to cadmium and selenate and then used untargeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) metabolomics to show that chemical exposure changed the bees' metabolite profiles and that compounds which may be involved in detoxification, proteolysis, and lipolysis were more abundant in treatments. Finally, we exposed several strains of bee-associated bacteria in liquid culture and found that each strain removed cadmium from its medium but that only Lactobacillus Firm-5 microbes assimilated selenate, indicating the possibility that these microbes may reduce the metal and metalloid burden on their host. Overall, our report shows that metal and metalloid exposure can affect the honey bee microbiome and metabolome and that strains of bee-associated bacteria can bioaccumulate these toxicants.IMPORTANCE Bees are important insect pollinators that may encounter environmental pollution when foraging upon plants grown in contaminated areas. Despite the pervasiveness of pollution, little is known about the effects of these toxicants on honey bee metabolism and their symbiotic microbiomes. Here, we investigated the impact of selenate and cadmium exposure on the gut microbiome and metabolome of honey bees. We found that exposure to these chemicals subtly altered the overall composition of the bees' microbiome and metabolome and that exposure to toxicants may negatively impact both host and microbe. As the microbiome of animals can reduce mortality upon metal or metalloid challenge, we grew bee-associated bacteria in media spiked with selenate or cadmium. We show that some bacteria can remove these toxicants from their media in vitro and suggest that bacteria may reduce metal burden in their hosts.
Project description:Animals living in social communities typically harbor a characteristic gut microbiota important for nutrition and pathogen defense. Accordingly, in the gut of the honey bee, Apis mellifera, a distinctive microbial community, composed of a taxonomically restricted set of species specific to social bees, has been identified. Despite the ecological and economical importance of honey bees and the increasing concern about population declines, the role of their gut symbionts for colony health and nutrition is unknown. Here, we sequenced the metagenome of the gut microbiota of honey bees. Unexpectedly, we found a remarkable degree of genetic diversity within the few bacterial species colonizing the bee gut. Comparative analysis of gene contents suggests that different species harbor distinct functional capabilities linked to host interaction, biofilm formation, and carbohydrate breakdown. Whereas the former two functions could be critical for pathogen defense and immunity, the latter one might assist nutrient utilization. In a ?-proteobacterial species, we identified genes encoding pectin-degrading enzymes likely involved in the breakdown of pollen walls. Experimental investigation showed that this activity is restricted to a subset of strains of this species providing evidence for niche specialization. Long-standing association of these gut symbionts with their hosts, favored by the eusocial lifestyle of honey bees, might have promoted the genetic and functional diversification of these bee-specific bacteria. Besides revealing insights into mutualistic functions governed by the microbiota of this important pollinator, our findings indicate that the honey bee can serve as a model for understanding more complex gut-associated microbial communities.
Project description:Gut symbionts can augment resistance to pathogens by stimulating host-immune responses, competing for space and nutrients, or producing antimicrobial metabolites. Gut microbiota of social bees, which pollinate many crops and wildflowers, protect hosts against diverse infections and might counteract pathogen-related bee declines. Bumble bee gut microbiota, and specifically abundance of Lactobacillus 'Firm-5' bacteria, can enhance resistance to the trypanosomatid parasite Crithidia bombi. However, the mechanism underlying this effect remains unknown. We hypothesized that the Firm-5 bacterium Lactobacillus bombicola, which produces lactic acid, inhibits C. bombi via pH-mediated effects. Consistent with our hypothesis, L. bombicola spent medium inhibited C. bombi growth via reduction in pH that was both necessary and sufficient for inhibition. Inhibition of all parasite strains occurred within the pH range documented in honey bees, though sensitivity to acidity varied among strains. Spent medium was slightly more potent than HCl, d- and l-lactic acids for a given pH, suggesting that other metabolites also contribute to inhibition. Results implicate symbiont-mediated reduction in gut pH as a key determinant of trypanosomatid infection in bees. Future investigation into in vivo effects of gut microbiota on pH and infection intensity would test the relevance of these findings for bees threatened by trypanosomatids.
Project description:Western honey bees (Apis mellifera) are important pollinators in natural and agricultural ecosystems, and yet are in significant decline due to several factors including parasites, pathogens, pesticides, and habitat loss. A new beehive construction called the FlowTM hive was developed in 2015 to allow honey to be harvested directly from the hive without opening it, resulting in an apparent decrease in stress to the bees. Here, we compared the Flow and traditional Langstroth hive constructions to determine if there were any significant differences in the bee microbiome. The bee-associated bacterial communities did not differ between hive constructions and varied only slightly over the course of a honey production season. Samples were dominated by taxa belonging to the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Bartonella, Snodgrassella, Gilliamella, and Frischella genera, as observed in previous studies. The top ten most abundant taxa made up the majority of the sequence data; however, many low abundance organisms were persistent across the majority of samples regardless of sampling time or hive type. We additionally compared different preparations of whole bee and dissected bee samples to elaborate on previous bee microbiome research. We found that bacterial sequences were overwhelming derived from the bee guts, and microbes on the bee surfaces (including pollen) contributed little to the overall microbiome of whole bees. Overall, the results indicate that different hive constructions and associated disturbance levels do not influence the bee gut microbiome, which has broader implications for supporting hive health.
Project description:The first step in understanding gut microbial ecology is determining the presence and potential niche breadth of associated microbes. While the core gut bacteria of adult honey bees is becoming increasingly apparent, there is very little and inconsistent information concerning symbiotic bacterial communities in honey bee larvae. The larval gut is the target of highly pathogenic bacteria and fungi, highlighting the need to understand interactions between typical larval gut flora, nutrition and disease progression. Here we show that the larval gut is colonized by a handful of bacterial groups previously described from guts of adult honey bees or other pollinators. First and second larval instars contained almost exclusively Alpha 2.2, a core Acetobacteraceae, while later instars were dominated by one of two very different Lactobacillus spp., depending on the sampled site. Royal jelly inhibition assays revealed that of seven bacteria occurring in larvae, only one Neisseriaceae and one Lactobacillus sp. were inhibited. We found both core and environmentally vectored bacteria with putatively beneficial functions. Our results suggest that early inoculation by Acetobacteraceae may be important for microbial succession in larvae. This assay is a starting point for more sophisticated in vitro models of nutrition and disease resistance in honey bee larvae.
Project description:The parasitic mite <i>Varroa destructor</i> is the greatest single driver of the global honey bee health decline. Better understanding of the association of this parasite and its host is critical to developing sustainable management practices. Our work shows that this parasite is not consuming hemolymph, as has been the accepted view, but damages host bees by consuming fat body, a tissue roughly analogous to the mammalian liver. Both hemolymph and fat body in honey bees were marked with fluorescent biostains. The fluorescence profile in the guts of mites allowed to feed on these bees was very different from that of the hemolymph of the host bee but consistently matched the fluorescence profile unique to the fat body. Via transmission electron microscopy, we observed externally digested fat body tissue in the wounds of parasitized bees. Mites in their reproductive phase were then fed a diet composed of one or both tissues. Mites fed hemolymph showed fitness metrics no different from the starved control. Mites fed fat body survived longer and produced more eggs than those fed hemolymph, suggesting that fat body is integral to their diet when feeding on brood as well. Collectively, these findings strongly suggest that <i>Varroa</i> are exploiting the fat body as their primary source of sustenance: a tissue integral to proper immune function, pesticide detoxification, overwinter survival, and several other essential processes in healthy bees. These findings underscore a need to revisit our understanding of this parasite and its impacts, both direct and indirect, on honey bee health.
Project description:Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are the primary pollinators of major horticultural crops. Over the last few decades, a substantial decline in honey bees and their colonies have been reported. While a plethora of factors could contribute to the putative decline, pathogens, and pesticides are common concerns that draw attention. In addition to potential direct effects on honey bees, indirect pesticide effects could include alteration of essential gut microbial communities and symbionts that are important to honey bee health (e.g., immune system). The primary objective of this study was to determine the microbiome associated with honey bees exposed to commonly used in-hive pesticides: coumaphos, tau-fluvalinate, and chlorothalonil. Treatments were replicated at three independent locations near Blacksburg Virginia, and included a no-pesticide amended control at each location. The microbiome was characterized through pyrosequencing of V2-V3 regions of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene and fungal ITS region. Pesticide exposure significantly affected the structure of bacterial but not fungal communities. The bee bacteriome, similar to other studies, was dominated by sequences derived from Bacilli, Actinobacteria, ?-, ?-, ?-proteobacteria. The fungal community sequences were dominated by Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes. The Multi-response permutation procedures (MRPP) and subsequent Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt) analysis indicated that chlorothalonil caused significant change to the structure and functional potential of the honey bee gut bacterial community relative to control. Putative genes for oxidative phosphorylation, for example, increased while sugar metabolism and peptidase potential declined in the microbiome of chlorothalonil exposed bees. The results of this field-based study suggest the potential for pesticide induced changes to the honey bee gut microbiome that warrant further investigation.