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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #354525

Research Project: Managing Honey Bees against Disease and Colony Stress

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Title: Environmental factors have a strong impact on the composition and diversity of the gut bacterial community of Chinese Black Honeybees

Author
item Zhao, Yazhou - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item Chen, Yanping - Judy
item Li, Zhiguo - Fujian Agricultural & Forestry University
item Peng, Wenjun - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences

Submitted to: Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/3/2018
Publication Date: 1/5/2018
Citation: Zhao, Y., Chen, Y., Li, Z., Peng, W. 2018. Environmental factors have a strong impact on the composition and diversity of the gut bacterial community of Chinese Black Honeybees. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology. 21:261-267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aspen.2018.01.002.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aspen.2018.01.002

Interpretive Summary: The Chinese black honeybee protected in nature reserves in North China has been an important breeding resource for parasitic mite Varroa and disease resistant. Compared to the areas outside of reserves, the biodiversity of nature reserves offers significant nutritional advantages to the Chinese black honey bees. In recent years, there has been growing evidence that gut bacteria play an important role in animal health. In the present study, we analyzed the gut bacterial communities of Chinese black honeybees. The results showed that Chinese black bee samples collected from the nature reserves had higher variety and richness of gut bacteria than that collected from unreserved regions that also harbor populations of Chinese black honeybees. The results clearly indicate that environmental factors including food choices play an important role in shaping the composition and activity of gut bacteria of Chinese black honeybees, which in turn could impact bee health. The information obtained from this study will be of interest to scientists in bee research societies, as well as the beekeeping community at large.

Technical Abstract: The Chinese black honeybees is an ecotype of the European honeybee that is formed by the natural hybridization of Apis mellifera mellifera and A. m. carnica. It is distributed in nature reserves in North China and has been an important breeding resource for disease resistance and other desirable traits. Compared to the areas outside of reserves, the nature reserves offer significant biodiversity benefits not only to the Chinese black honey bees but also to the other valuable plants and animals. In recent years there has been growing evidence that environmental factors including food choices play an important role in shaping the composition and activity of gut microbiota, which in turn can impact host health. In the previous studies on Chinse black honeybees, little attention has been paid to the diverse population of microbes in the gut that play a vital role in host health. In order to achieve a better understanding on the role of environmental factors in diversity and composition of gut microbiota of honey bees, in the present study, we analyzed the gut bacterial communities of Chinese black honeybees using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP). The results showed that the samples from the national nature reserves that are protected and managed so as to preserve and enrich their natural condition and resources for Chinese black honeybees had higher variety and richness of gut bacteria than that collected from unreserved regions that also harbor populations of Chinese black honeybees. The four terminal restriction fragments (T-RFs), 201, 223, 247 and 320 bp, were identified to be the dominant bacteria of Chinese black honeybees. Of which 247 and 320 bp had greater differences between bee groups sampled in different regions and therefore could be used as genetic markers to separate samples collected from the national nature reserves to from samples collected from unreserved regions. The results clearly indicate that national nature reserve protects biological diversity and ecological and evolutionary processes which have had a significant influence on the diversity of gut bacteria of Chinese black honeybees. The ubiquity of gut symbiotic bacteria identified in Chinese black honeybee suggests that environmental factors could play an important role in diversity and composition of gut bacteria and warrant further investigation into the functional significance of these gut bacteria for the honeybee health.