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.

Mite-destroying gut bacterium might help save vulnerable honey bees

Close up image of mite on honey bee abdomen.

(Science) Researchers are tapping an unusual ally in the fight to bring the bees back: a bacterium that lives solely in their guts. By genetically modifying the bacterium to trick the mite or a virus to destroy some of its own DNA, scientists have improved bee survival in the lab—and killed many of the mites that were parasitizing the insects.

Bee gut microbes have a division of labor

Image of purple flower.

(Phys.org/DOE/Joint Genome Institute) Honey bees rely on their gut microbiota to produce these enzymes to break down the complex structures in pollen. But scientists have wondered exactly how the microbial community carries out its helpful metabolism. Now, an international team of researchers has identified the major metabolic roles of constituent microbes. And their results also highlight some interesting microbial (and evolutionary) differences between honey bees and bumble bees.

Using probiotics to protect honey bees against fatal disease

Image of honey bees at entrance to hive.

(Western University) A group of researchers combined their expertise in probiotics and bee biology to supplement honey bee food with probiotics, in the form of a BioPatty, in their experimental apiaries. The aim was to see what effect probiotics would have on honey bee health. In the bee hives treated with probiotics, pathogen load was reduced by 99 percent, and survival-rate of the bees increased significantly.