Project Number: 5428-21000-015-03
Start Date: Sep 15, 2012
End Date: Sep 14, 2015
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that occur in the gut and help stave off disease. These are well studied in humans and livestock. Chalkbrood first develops in bees by way of an infection that starts in the gut. It is possible that probiotics occur in bees and affect their susceptibility to chalkbrood. However, little to nothing is known about the bacteria and fungi that occur in healthy alfalfa leafcutting bees, and nothing is known about the interaction between these microorganisms and the chalkbrood pathogen. We will take advantage of modern DNA-sequencing technology to identify gut-associated microbes, as a first step towards identifying beneficial symbionts and whether they can prevent infectious disease. Old DNA sequencing techniques were both costly and time-consuming, but new high-throughput DNA-sequencing techniques allow scientists to conduct broad surveys of microbial communities rapidly, at a much lower cost per sequence. Thus, it is now possible to collect a very large number of microbial DNA sequences from bee guts and use these to identify what microbes are present.