Researchers from the B.S.R.C. “Alexander Fleming” in Greece have optimized a technique to characterize DNA traces in honey, revealing the species that honeybees work together with. This collaborative work led by researcher Dr. Solenn Patalano allowed the monitoring of the variability of bee diets throughout the yr, revealing bee microbiota in a non-invasive manner, in addition to figuring out pathogenic species they’re confronted by. The analysis research is revealed within the journal Molecular Ecology Assets and, whereas at an early exploratory stage, it might revolutionize the way in which we perceive honeybee ecological niches
Why is knowing the honeybee’s ecological area of interest vital?
What defines an organism’s ecological niche is a fragile steadiness of interactions and changes to different species coexisting throughout the similar habitat. By pollinating timber and flowers, honeybees exploit numerous flowering plant species for their very own meals assets and progress. However, honeybee colonies are additionally weakened when environmental conditions favor the propagation of pathogenic species, reminiscent of Varroa mites. The species dynamics of the honeybee ecological area of interest are subsequently inextricably linked with the kind of habitat the bees dwell in and its seasonal modifications.
Confronted with the growing restructuring of agricultural areas and the consequences of local weather change, bee ecological niches have gotten extra susceptible. A greater understanding of the dynamics of interactions between bees and surrounding species will assist to establish danger durations and zones for bees. “That is extraordinarily vital in rural and agricultural environments, the place species interactions affect the productiveness of crops. It is compelling how a lot of our meals and survival depends upon the correct functioning of tiny bugs,” commented Anastasios Galanis, the primary creator of the research.
Honey, a singular marker of environmental plant variety
Honeybees make honey by regurgitating the nectar and pollen from the flowers they forage after which putting it within the cells of their hive till sufficient water evaporates. By means of this course of, honey comes into contact with a wide range of organisms and, subsequently, incorporates DNA from a number of species, collectively referred to as environmental DNA (eDNA); this originates from foraged vegetation, the intestine micro organism of bees, and potential hive pathogens. The now revealed, optimized methodology referred to as ‘direct-shotgun metagenomics’, entails sequencing and complete identification of the eDNA fragments present in honey. As defined by Galanis: “The design and testing of a bioinformatic pipeline tuned for honey metagenomic information permits us to extend sensitivity and specificity; thus, we might be fairly assured concerning the identification of sure species”.
On this research, researchers analyzed a number of samples of honey from an apiary positioned in a typical Mediterranean panorama. They recognized greater than 40 species of vegetation that replicate all of the botanical variety surrounding the hives. “What was very putting”, mentioned Dr. Patalano, “is to see how variable the abundance of plant eDNA is over the seasons, reflecting completely the behavioral foraging variations that observe plant flowering.” Researchers additionally in contrast the completely different samples of honey by means of melissopalinology (utilizing the form of pollen grains for characterization). Past the good complementarity of the 2 analyses, the research revealed that the metagenomic method additionally reveals non-pollen foraging habits, such because the foraging of pine honeydew, an vital meals useful resource for the survival of bees in early autumn.
Anticipating illness and unfold of pathogens
Opposite to what one may suppose, the ecological area of interest of bees extends effectively past vegetation. Within the analyzed honey samples, the researchers revealed a good larger variety of bacterial eDNA species, the overwhelming majority of which emanates from microorganisms thought of to be innocent and which comprise the core species of the bee microbiome. Dr. Patalano explains that “just like the human intestine microbiome, the intestine microbiome of the bee is a crucial aspect of their well being. We already know that environmental stressors, reminiscent of pesticides, can critically injury intestine microbial communities and enhance the danger of bee illnesses. However how this works stays largely unknown.” With this work, the researchers present proof that the honey metagenomics method permits the research of intestine microbiome variation with out the necessity of sacrificing the bees.
Researchers additionally appeared for the presence of eDNA from putative pathogens. They discovered that traces of Varroa mite eDNA in honey straight matched with noticed hive contamination. It’s a promising signal that this analysis might ultimately be used to watch and anticipate illness and pathogens in massive scale research.
“Sooner or later, this work may also have essential implications for people. If we need to guarantee ecosystem services, reminiscent of fruit and vegetable pollination, whereas sustaining species biodiversity, we additionally have to safeguard bee well being. Our problem is to construct biomonitoring methods as a way to establish the fittest ecological niches for all pollinators”, concluded Dr. Patalano.
Anastasios Galanis et al, Bee foraging preferences, microbiota and pathogens revealed by direct shotgun metagenomics of honey, Molecular Ecology Assets (2022). DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.13626
Biomedical Sciences Analysis Heart Alexander Fleming
DNA contained in honey reveals honeybee well being (2022, Could 20)
retrieved 20 Could 2022
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