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Habitat-specific variation in gut microbial communities and pathogen prevalence in bumblebee queens (Bombus terrestris)

Bosmans, L., Pozo, M. I., Verreth, C., Crauwels, S., Wilberts, L., Sobhy, I. S., Wackers, F., Jacquemyn, H. and Lievens, B. 2018. Habitat-specific variation in gut microbial communities and pathogen prevalence in bumblebee queens (Bombus terrestris). PLoS ONE 13 (10) , e0204612.. 10.1371/journal.pone.0204612

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Abstract

Gut microbial communities are critical for the health of many insect species. However, little is known about how gut microbial communities respond to anthropogenic changes and how such changes affect host-pathogen interactions. In this study, we used deep sequencing to investigate and compare the composition of gut microbial communities within the midgut and ileum (both bacteria and fungi) in Bombus terrestris queens collected from natural (forest) and urbanized habitats. Additionally, we investigated whether the variation in gut microbial communities under each habitat affected the prevalence of two important bumblebee pathogens that have recently been associated with Bombus declines (Crithidia bombi and Nosema bombi). Microbial community composition differed strongly among habitat types, both for fungi and bacteria. Fungi were almost exclusively associated with bumblebee queens from the forest habitats, and were not commonly detected in bumblebee queens from the urban sites. Further, gut bacterial communities of urban B. terrestris specimens were strongly dominated by bee-specific core bacteria like Snodgrassella (Betaproteobacteria) and Gilliamella (Gammaproteobacteria), whereas specimens from the forest sites contained a huge fraction of environmental bacteria. Pathogen infection was very low in urban populations and infection by Nosema was only observed in specimens collected from forest habitats. No significant relationship was found between pathogen prevalence and microbial gut diversity. However, there was a significant and negative relationship between prevalence of Nosema and relative abundance of the core resident Snodgrassella, supporting its role in pathogen defense. Overall, our results indicate that land-use change may lead to different microbial gut communities in bumblebees, which may have implications for bumblebee health, survival and overall fitness.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 February 2022
Date of Acceptance: 11 September 2018
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2022 11:15
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/147657

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