April 21, 2020  |  

Shared and unique microbes between Small hive beetles (Aethina tumida) and their honey bee hosts.

The small hive beetle (SHB) is an opportunistic parasite that feeds on bee larvae, honey, and pollen. While SHBs can also feed on fruit and other plant products, like its plant-feeding relatives, SHBs prefer to feed on hive resources and only reproduce inside bee colonies. As parasites, SHBs are inevitably exposed to bee-associated microbes, either directly from the bees or from the hive environment. These microbes have unknown impacts on beetles, nor is it known how extensively beetles transfer microbes among their bee hosts. To identify sets of beetle microbes and the transmission of microbes from bees to beetles, a metagenomic analysis was performed. We identified sets of herbivore-associated bacteria, as well as typical bee symbiotic bacteria for pollen digestion, in SHB larvae and adults. Deformed wing virus was highly abundant in beetles, which colonize SHBs as suggested by a controlled feeding trial. Our data suggest SHBs are vectors for pathogen transmission among bees and between colonies. The dispersal of host pathogens by social parasites via floral resources and the hive environment increases the threats of these parasites to honey bees. © 2019 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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