Community analysis of gut microbiota in hornets, the largest eusocial wasps, Vespa mandarinia and V. simillima.
ABSTRACT: Gut microbiota are important for various aspects of host physiology, and its composition is generally influenced by both intrinsic and extrinsic contexts of the host. Social bee gut microbiota composition is simple and highly stable hypothesized to be due to their unique food habit and social interactions. Here, we focused on hornets, the largest of the eusocial wasps - Vespa mandarinia and V. simillima. Unlike the well-studied honey bees, adult hornets are generally herbivorous but also hunt insects for broods, a unique behavior which could influence their gut microbiota. Analysis of the gut microbiome using 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that the two species have simple gut microbiota, composed of seven or eight consistently maintained 'core' operational taxonomic units (OTUs). While the two Vespa species shared some OTUs, the structures of their gut communities differed. Phylogenetic analysis indicated association of core OTUs with host diet. Intriguingly, prey honey bee gut microbes were detected in the V. simillima gut (and to a lesser extent in V. mandarinia), suggesting migration of microorganisms from the prey gut. This is the first report uncovering gut microbiome in hornets, giving additional insight into how food habit affects gut microbiota of social insects.
Project description:Alarm communication is a key adaptation that helps social groups resist predation and rally defenses. In Asia, the world's largest hornet, Vespa mandarinia, and the smaller hornet, Vespa velutina, prey upon foragers and nests of the Asian honey bee, Apis cerana. We attacked foragers and colony nest entrances with these predators and provide the first evidence, in social insects, of an alarm signal that encodes graded danger and attack context. We show that, like Apis mellifera, A. cerana possesses a vibrational "stop signal," which can be triggered by predator attacks upon foragers and inhibits waggle dancing. Large hornet attacks were more dangerous and resulted in higher bee mortality. Per attack at the colony level, large hornets elicited more stop signals than small hornets. Unexpectedly, stop signals elicited by large hornets (SS large hornet) had a significantly higher vibrational fundamental frequency than those elicited by small hornets (SS small hornet) and were more effective at inhibiting waggle dancing. Stop signals resulting from attacks upon the nest entrance (SS nest) were produced by foragers and guards and were significantly longer in pulse duration than stop signals elicited by attacks upon foragers (SS forager). Unlike SS forager, SS nest were targeted at dancing and non-dancing foragers and had the common effect, tuned to hornet threat level, of inhibiting bee departures from the safe interior of the nest. Meanwhile, nest defenders were triggered by the bee alarm pheromone and live hornet presence to heat-ball the hornet. In A. cerana, sophisticated recruitment communication that encodes food location, the waggle dance, is therefore matched with an inhibitory/alarm signal that encodes information about the context of danger and its threat level.
Project description:The Asian yellow-legged hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax, a major predator of honeybees, is spreading in Europe in part due to a lack of efficient control methods. In this study, as a first step to identify biological control agents, we characterized viral RNA sequences present in asymptomatic or symptomatic hornets. Among 19 detected viruses, the honey bee virus Deformed wing virus-B was predominant in all the samples, particularly in muscles from the symptomatic hornet, suggesting a putative cause of the deformed wing symptom. Interestingly, two new viruses closely related to Acyrthosiphon pisum virus and Himetobi P virus and viruses typically associated with honey bees, Acute bee paralysis virus and Black queen cell virus, were detected in the brain and muscles, and may correspond to the circulation and possible replication forms of these viruses in the hornet. Aphid lethal paralysis virus, Bee Macula-like virus, and Moku virus, which are known to infect honey bees, were also identified in the gut virus metagenome of hornets. Therefore, our study underlined the urgent need to study the host range of these newly discovered viruses in hornets to determine whether they represent a new threat for honey bees or a hope for the biocontrol of V. velutina.
Project description:Information concerning the pathogenic role of honey bee viruses in invasive species are still scarce. The aim of this investigation was to assess the presence of several honey bee viruses, such as Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV), Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV), Slow Paralysis Virus (SPV), Sac Brood Virus (SBV), Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV), Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV), in Vespa velutina specimens collected in Italy during 2017. Results of this investigation indicate that among pathogens, replicative form of KBV and BQCV were detected, assessing the spillover effect of both these viruses from managed honey bees to hornets.
Project description:The range of the invasive alien hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax, has been expanding since its introduction to Korea in 2003. Here, we compare the aggressive behaviors and body size of V. velutina nigrithorax with five native hornet species to identify the interspecific hierarchies that influence the rate of spread of this species. Aggressive behaviors were classified into 11 categories, and each interaction was scored as a win, loss, or tie. We found that V. velutina was superior to V. simillima in fights that V. velutina won and showed a high incidence of threatening behavior. V. mandarinia outperformed V. velutina in fights that V. mandarinia won and grappling behavior was common. V. analis was superior to V. velutina in fights that V. analis won and showed a high degree of threatening behavior. V. crabro was superior to V. velutina in fights that V. crabro won and showed a high rate of threatening behavior. V. dybowskii was superior to V. velutina in fights that V. dybowskii won and showed a high incidence of threatening and grappling behaviors. The body size of V. velutina was greater than V. simillima (although not statistically significant) and smaller than all other Vespa species. Therefore, according to this study, the low interspecific hierarchies of V. velutina seem to be a major cause of the slower spread in Korea than in Europe. However, over time, its density has gradually increased within the forest, where it seems to be overcoming its disadvantages and expanding its range, possibly because the large colonies and good flying abilities of this species help it secure food.
Project description:We genetically identified three different species of hornets and analyzed the nutrient compositions of their edible brood. Samples were collected from a commercial production unit in Shizong province of China and from forests near Andong City in Korea. The species were identified as <i>Vespa velutina</i>, <i>V. mandarinia</i>, and <i>V. basalis</i> from China and <i>V. velutina</i> from Korea. Farmed <i>V. velutina</i> and <i>V. mandarinia</i> were found to have similar protein contents, i.e., total amino acids, whereas <i>V. basalis</i> contained less protein. The <i>V. velutina</i> brood collected from the forest contained the highest amount of amino acids. Altogether 17 proteinogenic amino acids were detected and quantified with similar patterns of distribution in all three species: leucine followed by tyrosine and lysine being predominant among the essential and glutamic acid among the non-essential amino acids. A different pattern was found for fatty acids: The polyunsaturated fatty acid proportion was highest in <i>V. mandarinia</i> and <i>V. basalis</i>, but saturated fatty acids dominated in the case of <i>V. velutina</i> from two different sources. The high amounts of unsaturated fatty acids in the lipids of the hornets could be expected to exhibit nutritional benefits, including reducing cardiovascular disorders and inflammations. High minerals contents, especially micro minerals such as iron, zinc, and a high K/Na ratio in hornets could help mitigate mineral deficiencies among those of the population with inadequate nutrition.
Project description:Adult honey bees host a remarkably consistent gut microbial community that is thought to benefit host health and provide protection against parasites and pathogens. Currently, however, we lack experimental evidence for the causal role of the gut microbiota in protecting the Western honey bees (<i>Apis mellifera</i>) against their viral pathogens. Here we set out to fill this knowledge gap by investigating how the gut microbiota modulates the virulence of a major honey bee viral pathogen, deformed wing virus (DWV). We found that, upon oral virus exposure, honey bee survival was significantly increased in bees with an experimentally established normal gut microbiota compared to control bees with a perturbed (dysbiotic) gut microbiota. Interestingly, viral titers were similar in bees with normal gut microbiota and dysbiotic bees, pointing to higher viral tolerance in bees with normal gut microbiota. Taken together, our results provide evidence for a positive role of the gut microbiota for honey bee fitness upon viral infection. We hypothesize that environmental stressors altering honey bee gut microbiota composition, e.g., antibiotics in beekeeping or pesticides in modern agriculture, could interact synergistically with pathogens, leading to negative effects on honey bee health and the epidemiology and impact of their viruses.
Project description:The Oriental Hornet (<i>Vespa orientalis</i>) is a social insect belonging to the Vespiade family (Wasps, Hornets, Yellowjackets), genus <i>Vespa</i> (true Hornets). The oriental hornet is a scavenger and an agricultural pest, especially to bee farmers, but is also recently described as a harvester of solar energy. Here, we report the mitochondrial genome sequence of the Oriental Hornet, <i>Vespa orientalis F</i>., which may play a vital role in understanding this wasp biology, light trapping and generation of electricity. The mitochondrial genome of this hornet is 16,099?bp in length, containing 13 protein-coding genes, 21 transfer RNA genes, and 2 ribosomal RNA genes. The overall base composition of the heavy-strand is 40.3% A, 5.9% C, 13.2% G, and 40.6% T, the percentages of A and T being higher than that of G and C. The mitochondrial genome of the Oriental Hornet, <i>Vespa orientalis F</i>. represents the first mitogenome of a solar energy harvesting insect.
Project description:The Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, is an invasive, globally-distributed predator of European honey bees and other insects. To better under its reproductive biology and to find a specific, effective, and low-impact control method for this species, we identified and tested the key compounds in V. velutina sex pheromone. Virgin gynes (reproductive females) produced this sex pheromone in the sixth intersegmental sternal glands of their abdomens. The active compounds were 4-oxo-octanoic acid (4-OOA, 10.4??g bee<sup>-1</sup>) and 4-oxo-decanoic acid (4-ODA, 13.3??g bee<sup>-1</sup>) at a 0.78 ratio of 4-OOA/4-ODA. We synthesized these compounds and showed that male antennae were highly sensitive to them. Moreover, males were only strongly attracted to a 4-OOA/4-ODA blend at the natural ratio produced by gynes. These results provide the first demonstration of an effective way to lure V. velutina males, and the first chemical identification of a sex pheromone in the eusocial hornets.
Project description:The yellow-legged or Asian hornet (Vespa velutina colour form nigrithorax) was introduced into France from China over a decade ago. Vespa velutina has since spread rapidly across Europe, facilitated by suitable climatic conditions and the ability of a single nest to disperse many mated queens over a large area. Yellow-legged hornets are a major concern because of the potential impact they have on populations of many beneficial pollinators, most notably the western honey bee (Apis mellifera), which shows no effective defensive behaviours against this exotic predator. Here, we present the first report of this species in Great Britain. Actively foraging hornets were detected at two locations, the first around a single nest in Gloucestershire, and the second a single hornet trapped 54 km away in Somerset. The foraging activity observed in Gloucestershire was largely restricted to within 700 m of a single nest, suggesting highly localised movements. Genetic analyses of individuals from the Gloucestershire nest and the single hornet from Somerset suggest that these incursions represent an expansion of the European population, rather than a second incursion from Asia. The founding queen of the Gloucestershire nest mated with a single male, suggesting that sexual reproduction may have occurred in an area of low nest density. Whilst the nest contained diploid adult males, haploid 'true' males were only present at the egg stage, indicating that the nest was detected and removed before the production of queens. Members of the public reported additional dead hornets associated with camping equipment recently returned from France and imported timber products, highlighting possible pathways of incursion. The utility of microsatellites to inform surveillance during an incursion and the challenge of achieving eradication of this damaging pest are discussed.
Project description:The honey bee gut microbiota influences bee health and has become an important model to study the ecology and evolution of microbiota-host interactions. Yet, little is known about the phage community associated with the bee gut, despite its potential to modulate bacterial diversity or to govern important symbiotic functions. Here we analyzed two metagenomes derived from virus-like particles, analyzed the prevalence of the identified phages across 73 bacterial metagenomes from individual bees, and tested the host range of isolated phages. Our results show that the honey bee gut virome is composed of at least 118 distinct clusters corresponding to both temperate and lytic phages and representing novel genera with a large repertoire of unknown gene functions. We find that the phage community is prevalent in honey bees across space and time and targets the core members of the bee gut microbiota. The large number and high genetic diversity of the viral clusters seems to mirror the high extent of strain-level diversity in the bee gut microbiota. We isolated eight lytic phages that target the core microbiota member Bifidobacterium asteroides, but that exhibited different host ranges at the strain level, resulting in a nested interaction network of coexisting phages and bacterial strains. Collectively, our results show that the honey bee gut virome consists of a complex and diverse phage community that likely plays an important role in regulating strain-level diversity in the bee gut and that holds promise as an experimental model to study bacteria-phage dynamics in natural microbial communities.