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A pinboard by
Amanda Hale

second year PhD student, University of California Riverside

PINBOARD SUMMARY

The ability of different ant species to adapt their gut microbiome over short periods of time to different diets and environments may help define the limits of their ranges. Certain species of ants have co-adapted with bacteria that help them fill gaps in their diet - such as nitrogen and essential amino acids. Other ant species appear to have no gut microbiomes that they rely on, which may allow them to expand into larger territories than ants dependent on certain bacterial partners in their gut.

5 ITEMS PINNED

The Bee Microbiome: Impact on Bee Health and Model for Evolution and Ecology of Host-Microbe Interactions.

Abstract: As pollinators, bees are cornerstones for terrestrial ecosystem stability and key components in agricultural productivity. All animals, including bees, are associated with a diverse community of microbes, commonly referred to as the microbiome. The bee microbiome is likely to be a crucial factor affecting host health. However, with the exception of a few pathogens, the impacts of most members of the bee microbiome on host health are poorly understood. Further, the evolutionary and ecological forces that shape and change the microbiome are unclear. Here, we discuss recent progress in our understanding of the bee microbiome, and we present challenges associated with its investigation. We conclude that global coordination of research efforts is needed to fully understand the complex and highly dynamic nature of the interplay between the bee microbiome, its host, and the environment. High-throughput sequencing technologies are ideal for exploring complex biological systems, including host-microbe interactions. To maximize their value and to improve assessment of the factors affecting bee health, sequence data should be archived, curated, and analyzed in ways that promote the synthesis of different studies. To this end, the BeeBiome consortium aims to develop an online database which would provide reference sequences, archive metadata, and host analytical resources. The goal would be to support applied and fundamental research on bees and their associated microbes and to provide a collaborative framework for sharing primary data from different research programs, thus furthering our understanding of the bee microbiome and its impact on pollinator health.

Pub.: 28 Apr '16, Pinned: 01 Jul '17

Dissecting host-associated communities with DNA barcodes.

Abstract: DNA barcoding and metabarcoding methods have been invaluable in the study of interactions between host organisms and their symbiotic communities. Barcodes can help identify individual symbionts that are difficult to distinguish using morphological characters, and provide a way to classify undescribed species. Entire symbiont communities can be characterized rapidly using barcoding and especially metabarcoding methods, which is often crucial for isolating ecological signal from the substantial variation among individual hosts. Furthermore, barcodes allow the evolutionary histories of symbionts and their hosts to be assessed simultaneously and in reference to one another. Here, we describe three projects illustrating the utility of barcodes for studying symbiotic interactions: first, we consider communities of arthropods found in the ant-occupied domatia of the East African ant-plant Vachellia (Acacia) drepanolobium; second, we examine communities of arthropod and protozoan inquilines in three species of Nepenthes pitcher plant in South East Asia; third, we investigate communities of gut bacteria of South American ants in the genus Cephalotes Advances in sequencing and computation, and greater database connectivity, will continue to expand the utility of barcoding methods for the study of species interactions, especially if barcoding can be approached flexibly by making use of alternative genetic loci, metagenomes and whole-genome data.This article is part of the themed issue 'From DNA barcodes to biomes'.

Pub.: 03 Aug '16, Pinned: 01 Jul '17

Flowers and Wild Megachilid Bees Share Microbes

Abstract: Abstract Transmission pathways have fundamental influence on microbial symbiont persistence and evolution. For example, the core gut microbiome of honey bees is transmitted socially and via hive surfaces, but some non-core bacteria associated with honey bees are also found on flowers, and these bacteria may therefore be transmitted indirectly between bees via flowers. Here, we test whether multiple flower and wild megachilid bee species share microbes, which would suggest that flowers may act as hubs of microbial transmission. We sampled the microbiomes of flowers (either bagged to exclude bees or open to allow bee visitation), adults, and larvae of seven megachilid bee species and their pollen provisions. We found a Lactobacillus operational taxonomic unit (OTU) in all samples but in the highest relative and absolute abundances in adult and larval bee guts and pollen provisions. The presence of the same bacterial types in open and bagged flowers, pollen provisions, and bees supports the hypothesis that flowers act as hubs of transmission of these bacteria between bees. The presence of bee-associated bacteria in flowers that have not been visited by bees suggests that these bacteria may also be transmitted to flowers via plant surfaces, the air, or minute insect vectors such as thrips. Phylogenetic analyses of nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences indicated that the Lactobacillus OTU dominating in flower- and megachilid-associated microbiomes is monophyletic, and we propose the name Lactobacillus micheneri sp. nov. for this bacterium.AbstractTransmission pathways have fundamental influence on microbial symbiont persistence and evolution. For example, the core gut microbiome of honey bees is transmitted socially and via hive surfaces, but some non-core bacteria associated with honey bees are also found on flowers, and these bacteria may therefore be transmitted indirectly between bees via flowers. Here, we test whether multiple flower and wild megachilid bee species share microbes, which would suggest that flowers may act as hubs of microbial transmission. We sampled the microbiomes of flowers (either bagged to exclude bees or open to allow bee visitation), adults, and larvae of seven megachilid bee species and their pollen provisions. We found a Lactobacillus operational taxonomic unit (OTU) in all samples but in the highest relative and absolute abundances in adult and larval bee guts and pollen provisions. The presence of the same bacterial types in open and bagged flowers, pollen provisions, and bees supports the hypothesis that flowers act as hubs of transmission of these bacteria between bees. The presence of bee-associated bacteria in flowers that have not been visited by bees suggests that these bacteria may also be transmitted to flowers via plant surfaces, the air, or minute insect vectors such as thrips. Phylogenetic analyses of nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences indicated that the Lactobacillus OTU dominating in flower- and megachilid-associated microbiomes is monophyletic, and we propose the name Lactobacillus micheneri sp. nov. for this bacterium.LactobacillusLactobacillusLactobacillus micheneri

Pub.: 03 Sep '16, Pinned: 01 Jul '17

The structured diversity of specialized gut symbionts of the New World army ants.

Abstract: Symbiotic bacteria play important roles in the biology of their arthropod hosts. Yet the microbiota of many diverse and influential groups remain understudied, resulting in a paucity of information on the fidelities and histories of these associations. Motivated by prior findings from a smaller scale, 16S rRNA-based study, we conducted a broad phylogenetic and geographical survey of microbial communities in the ecologically dominant New World army ants (Formicidae: Dorylinae). Amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene across 28 species spanning the five New World genera showed that the microbial communities of army ants consist of very few common and abundant bacterial species. The two most abundant microbes, referred to as Unclassified Firmicutes and Unclassified Entomoplasmatales, appear to be specialized army ant associates that dominate microbial communities in the gut lumen of three host genera, Eciton, Labidus, and Nomamyrmex. Both are present in other army ant genera, including those from the Old World, suggesting that army ant symbioses date back to the Cretaceous. Extensive sequencing of bacterial protein-coding genes revealed multiple strains of these symbionts co-existing within colonies, but seldom within the same individual ant. Bacterial strains formed multiple host species-specific lineages on phylogenies, which often grouped strains from distant geographic locations. These patterns deviate from those seen in other social insects and raise intriguing questions about the influence of army ant colony swarm-founding and within-colony genetic diversity on strain co-existence, and the effects of hosting a diverse suite of symbiont strains on colony ecology. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Pub.: 11 Apr '17, Pinned: 01 Jul '17