Bee-apocalypse update: Honeybee deaths linked to gut microbe-altering antibiotic

[Editor's note: Kasie Raymann, Zach Shaffer, and Nancy Moran are researchers in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas - Austin.]

There is growing evidence for the importance of gut microbes in animal health.

Unlike most other insects, honeybees possess a highly conserved gut microbial community, which is acquired through social contact, and several results have suggested that these microbes play an important role in honeybee health.

Antibiotics, which can severely disrupt gut microbial communities, are commonly used in beekeeping in several countries. However, it is unknown how antibiotic treatment affects the gut microbial communities of honeybees.

Here, we evaluated the effects of antibiotic treatment on the size and composition of the honeybee gut microbiome and on honeybee health.

We found that exposure to antibiotics significantly alters the honeybee gut microbial community structure and leads to decreased survivorship of honeybees in the hive, likely due to increased susceptibility to infection by opportunistic pathogens.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Antibiotic exposure perturbs the gut microbiota and elevates mortality in honeybees

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