Into the belly of the bee

13 June, 2021

Environmental bacteria and fungi that end up in the belly of honeybees may be essential to their survival in a changing world as bee populations dwindle due to pesticides, poor nutrition, habitat destruction and declining genetic diversity.

Like many animals, bees have an internal armory. Their guts are home to a multitude of microbes that perform vital functions, from aiding digestion to breaking down toxins and fending off parasites. “A healthy gut microbiota makes bees more resilient to threats such as pathogens and climate change,” says KAUST research scientist Ramona Marasco, “highlighting the need to understand how different microbes help their host.”

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Image:The team removed the whole gut from bees and used genome sequencing to analyze the bacterial community in each of the four main gut sections.
© 2021 KAUST; Ramona Marasco