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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Tucson, Arizona » Honey Bee Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #327036

Research Project: Determining the Impacts of Pesticide- and Nutrition-Induced Stress on Honey Bee Colony Growth and Survival

Location: Honey Bee Research

Title: Honey bee gut microbial communities are robust to the fungicide Pristine® consumed in pollen

Author
item Degrandi-hoffman, Gloria
item Corby-harris, Vanessa
item Watkins De Jong, Emily
item Chambers, Mona
item Hidalgo, Geoffrey

Submitted to: Apidologie
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/27/2016
Publication Date: 11/23/2016
Citation: Hoffman, G.D., Corby-Harris, V.L., Watkins De Jong, E.E., Chambers, M.L., Hidalgo, G. 2016. Honey bee gut microbial communities are robust to the fungicide Pristine® consumed in pollen. Apidologie. doi:10.1007/s13592-016-0478-y.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees often encounter fungicides in pollen they collect from agricultural crops. Recently the fungicide Pristine® was reported to have sub-lethal effects on honey bees when ingested at field relevant concentrations in pollen. Bees fed pollen with Pristine® had reduced protein digestion, lower ATP levels, and higher virus titers than those fed untreated pollen. Fungicides are broad spectrum antibiotics, and can have bactericidal properties. The honey bee gut contains bacterial communities many of which have genes related to carbohydrate digestion, including those in plant cell and pollen walls. If ingesting Pristine® results in changes in the composition or diversity of the gut bacterial communities, it might explain some of the sublethal effects found when bees consume pollen contaminated with Pristine®. We fed honey bees pollen with two different field relevant concentrations of Pristine® in two separate experiments. In both experiments, the gut bacterial communities in the bees fed pollen with Pristine® did not differ in species composition from those fed pollen without Pristine®. However, there were considerable differences in gut microbial communities between experiments that might have been due to factors such as environment, diet, and source colony. The results from this study indicate that reduced pollen digestion in bees fed pollen with Pristine® was probably not related to changes in the gut microbiota, but perhaps to effects on the bees that might have been related to respiratory inhibition and reduced ATP synthesis.

Technical Abstract: Honeybees that consume pollen with sublethal levels of the fungicide Pristine® can have reduced pollen digestion, lower ATP synthesis and in many ways resemble malnourished bees. Reduced nutrient acquisition in bees exposed to Pristine® might be because this fungicide affects the composition of gut microbial communities. Two experiments were conducted to test for the effects of Pristine® on the composition and diversity of bacteria in nurse bee midguts. We did not find differences in the species composition of the gut microbiota between bees fed pollen with and without Pristine® at either low or high doses. However, there were considerable differences in gut microbial communities between experiments that might have been due to factors such as environment, diet, and source colony. The results from this study indicate that reduced pollen digestion in bees fed pollen with Pristine® was probably not related to changes in the gut microbiota, but to effects on the bees that might have been related to respiratory inhibition and reduced ATP synthesis.