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Microbial diversity in stingless bee gut is linked to host wing size and influenced by the environment.

Liu, Hongwei, Hall, Mark A, Brettell, Laura, Wang, Juntao, Halcroft, Megan, Nacko, Scott, Spooner-Hart, Robert, Cook, James M, Riegler, Markus and Singh, Brajesh K (2023) 'Microbial diversity in stingless bee gut is linked to host wing size and influenced by the environment.'. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, Vol 198, e107909.

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Stingless bees are important social corbiculate bees, fulfilling critical pollination roles in many ecosystems. However, their gut microbiota, particularly the fungal communities associated with them, remains inadequately characterised. This knowledge gap hinders our understanding of bee gut microbiomes and their impacts on the host fitness. We collected 121 samples from two species, Tetragonula carbonaria and Austroplebeia australis across 1200 km of eastern Australia. We characterised their gut microbiomes and investigated potential correlations between bee gut microbiomes and various geographical and morphological factors. We found their core microbiomes consisted of the abundant bacterial taxa Snodgrassella, Lactobacillus and Acetobacteraceae, and the fungal taxa Didymellaceae, Monocilium mucidum and Aureobasidium pullulans, but variances of their abundances among samples were large. Furthermore, gut bacterial richness of T. carbonaria was positively correlated to host forewing length, an established correlate to body size and fitness indicator in insects relating to flight capacity. This result indicates that larger body size/longer foraging distance of bees could associate with greater microbial diversity in gut. Additionally, both host species identity and management approach significantly influenced gut microbial diversity and composition, and similarity between colonies for both species decreased as the geographic distance between them increased. We also quantified the total bacterial and fungal abundance of the samples using qPCR analyses and found that bacterial abundance was higher in T. carbonaria compared to A. australis, and fungi were either lowly abundant or below the threshold of detection for both species. Overall, our study provides novel understanding of stingless bee gut microbiomes over a large geographic span and reveals that gut fungal communities likely not play an important role in host functions due to their low abundances.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QX Parasitology > QX 20 Research (General)
QX Parasitology > QX 45 Host-parasite relations
QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 500 Insects
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Vector Biology Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2023 12:28
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2023 12:28


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