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Science. 2020 Jan 31;367(6477):573-576. doi: 10.1126/science.aax9039. Epub 2020 Jan 30.

Engineered symbionts activate honey bee immunity and limit pathogens.

Author information

1
Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
2
Department of Molecular Biosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
3
Department of Molecular Biosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. nancy.moran@austin.utexas.edu jbarrick@cm.utexas.edu.
4
Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. nancy.moran@austin.utexas.edu jbarrick@cm.utexas.edu.

Abstract

Honey bees are essential pollinators threatened by colony losses linked to the spread of parasites and pathogens. Here, we report a new approach for manipulating bee gene expression and protecting bee health. We engineered a symbiotic bee gut bacterium, Snodgrassella alvi, to induce eukaryotic RNA interference (RNAi) immune responses. We show that engineered S. alvi can stably recolonize bees and produce double-stranded RNA to activate RNAi and repress host gene expression, thereby altering bee physiology, behavior, and growth. We used this approach to improve bee survival after a viral challenge, and we show that engineered S. alvi can kill parasitic Varroa mites by triggering the mite RNAi response. This symbiont-mediated RNAi approach is a tool for studying bee functional genomics and potentially for safeguarding bee health.

PMID:
32001655
DOI:
10.1126/science.aax9039

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