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Sci Adv. 2017 Mar 29;3(3):e1600513. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1600513. eCollection 2017 Mar.

Dynamic microbiome evolution in social bees.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.
2
Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
3
Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
4
Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117543, Singapore.
5
Vale Institute of Technology, Sustainable Development, 66055-090 Belém PA, Brazil.
6
Department of Ecology, Universidade de São Paulo, Rua do Matão 321, 05508-090 São Paulo SP, Brazil.

Abstract

The highly social (eusocial) corbiculate bees, comprising the honey bees, bumble bees, and stingless bees, are ubiquitous insect pollinators that fulfill critical roles in ecosystem services and human agriculture. Here, we conduct wide sampling across the phylogeny of these corbiculate bees and reveal a dynamic evolutionary history behind their microbiota, marked by multiple gains and losses of gut associates, the presence of generalist as well as host-specific strains, and patterns of diversification driven, in part, by host ecology (for example, colony size). Across four continents, we found that different host species have distinct gut communities, largely independent of geography or sympatry. Nonetheless, their microbiota has a shared heritage: The emergence of the eusocial corbiculate bees from solitary ancestors appears to coincide with the acquisition of five core gut bacterial lineages, supporting the hypothesis that host sociality facilitates the development and maintenance of specialized microbiomes.

KEYWORDS:

Microbial ecology; bumble bees; gut microbiota; honey bees; species-area relationship; stingless bees

PMID:
28435856
PMCID:
PMC5371421
DOI:
10.1126/sciadv.1600513
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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