Wasps’ gut microbes help them – and their offspring – survive pesticides

Close-up image of tiny wasp.

(ScienceDaily/Cell Press) Exposure to the widely used pesticide atrazine leads to heritable changes in the gut microbiome of wasps. Additionally, the altered microbiome confers atrazine resistance, which is inherited across successive generations not exposed to the pesticide. Even though these wasps are not natural crop pollinators, the study could have broad implications. Notably, bacterial atrazine-metabolizing genes are also present in wild bee populations exposed to the pesticide.

Water lily genome expands picture of the early evolution of flowering plants

Image of purple water lily.

(Penn State) The newly reported genome sequence of a water lily sheds light on the early evolution of angiosperms. Water lilies have been important to scientists because of their position near the base of the evolutionary tree of all flowering plants. Scientists are interested in the water lily genome to help understand how traits like big showy colorful flowers and floral scents, both of which serve to attract pollinators, have evolved.

Farmed bees are mating with native bees – and that could endanger them

Image of managed bee boxes among plants.

(NewScientist) The hybridization can threaten the long-term survival of the native bees, says Ignasi Bartomeus at the Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain. “Diversity is the best insurance against [environmental] perturbations because it creates variability from which to adapt to new situations,” he says. “If we homogenize the genetic diversity of some species, we are losing this insurance.”

Genomes of parasitic mites harming the world’s bees sequenced

Image of Varroa mite on honey bee.

(ScienceDaily) Researchers sequenced the genomes of the two Varroa mite species that parasitize the honey bee. They found that each species of mite used its own distinct strategy to survive in its bee host, potentially overwhelming the bees’ defenses. In addition to pointing to how scientists might vanquish these deadly intruders, the findings also shed light on how parasites and hosts evolve in response to one another.

Study shows bee brains process positive and negative experiences differently

Image of honey bee on yellow flower.

(Phys.org) Scientists have known for a long time that vertebrates handle positive and negative events differently, storing and retrieving those memories in their brains differently, as well. To find out if the same is true for invertebrates, they exposed honey bees to positive or negative events and then studied gene expression in a part of their brain known as the mushroom body.