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PLoS One. 2015 Apr 15;10(4):e0123911. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123911. eCollection 2015.

Caste-specific differences in hindgut microbial communities of honey bees (Apis mellifera).

Author information

1
Institute for Genomic Biology, 1206 W. Gregory Dr., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America; Department of Entomology, 505 S. Goodwin Ave., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America; Department of Biology, 5305 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84341 United States of America.
2
Institute for Genomic Biology, 1206 W. Gregory Dr., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America; Department of Physics, 1110 W. Green St., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America.
3
Institute for Genomic Biology, 1206 W. Gregory Dr., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America; Department of Animal and Range Sciences, Montana State University, P.O. Box 172900, Bozeman, MT 59717, United States of America.
4
Institute for Genomic Biology, 1206 W. Gregory Dr., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America; Department of Microbiology, 601 S. Goodwin Ave., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America.
5
Institute for Genomic Biology, 1206 W. Gregory Dr., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America; Department of Animal Sciences, 1207 W. Gregory Dr., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America.
6
Institute for Genomic Biology, 1206 W. Gregory Dr., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America; Department of Entomology, 505 S. Goodwin Ave., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801 United States of America.

Abstract

Host-symbiont dynamics are known to influence host phenotype, but their role in social behavior has yet to be investigated. Variation in life history across honey bee (Apis mellifera) castes may influence community composition of gut symbionts, which may in turn influence caste phenotypes. We investigated the relationship between host-symbiont dynamics and social behavior by characterizing the hindgut microbiome among distinct honey bee castes: queens, males and two types of workers, nurses and foragers. Despite a shared hive environment and mouth-to-mouth food transfer among nestmates, we detected separation among gut microbiomes of queens, workers, and males. Gut microbiomes of nurses and foragers were similar to previously characterized honey bee worker microbiomes and to each other, despite differences in diet, activity, and exposure to the external environment. Queen microbiomes were enriched for bacteria that may enhance metabolic conversion of energy from food to egg production. We propose that the two types of workers, which have the highest diversity of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of bacteria, are central to the maintenance of the colony microbiome. Foragers may introduce new strains of bacteria to the colony from the environment and transfer them to nurses, who filter and distribute them to the rest of the colony. Our results support the idea that host-symbiont dynamics influence microbiome composition and, reciprocally, host social behavior.

PMID:
25874551
PMCID:
PMC4398325
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0123911
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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