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Functional characterization of microbial symbioses in the honey bee gut microbiota

Applicant Engel Philipp
Number 148264
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Département de Microbiologie Fondamentale Faculté de Biologie et de Médecine Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Experimental Microbiology
Start/End 01.01.2014 - 31.03.2015
Approved amount 196'479.00
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All Disciplines (5)

Discipline
Experimental Microbiology
Genetics
Molecular Biology
Environmental Research
Ecology

Keywords (7)

Gut microbiota; Symbiosis; Honey bee; Host interaction; Gut homeostasis; Bacteria; Mutualism

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Honigbienen beherbergen eine einzigartige Bakteriengemeinschaft in ihrem Magendarmtrakt, welche sich im Laufe der Evolution spezifisch an diese Umgebung angepasst hat. Wie auch im Menschen können Magendarmbakterien der Honigbiene eine wichtige Rolle für die Gesundheit ihres Wirtes spielen. Die genauen Funktionen dieser Bakterien sind jedoch trotz der zentralen Bedeutung von Bienen für Landwirtschaft und Ökosystem noch weitgehend unbekannt.
Lay summary

Das Kernziel dieses Forschungsprojektes wird es sein, die Interaktionen zwischen Bakterien und Honigbienen näher zu charakterisieren.  Hierzu werden keimfreie Bienen im Labor mit spezifischen Bakterienisolaten kolonisiert. Der Fokus wird auf einem spezifischen Bakterium liegen welches die Magendarmwände der Biene besiedelt und somit in enger Wechselwirkung mit dem Wirt steht. Wir werden den Einfluss dieses Bakteriums auf verschiedene Wirtsfaktoren, u.a. Immunsystem und Krankheitsresistenz, untersuchen. Des Weiteren werden wir genetische Faktoren dieses Bakteriums bestimmen, welche für die Kolonisierung des Wirtes wichtig sind.

Als Bestäuber einer Vielzahl von Pflanzen ist die Honigbiene ein Insekt von zentraler Bedeutung für Umwelt und Landwirtschaft. Unsere Arbeit wird neue und wichtige Erkenntnisse über den Einfluss der Darmbakterien auf die Bienengesundheit aufdecken. Im Hinblick auf das weltweit vermehrte Auftreten von Bienensterben könnte dies zu neuen Strategien, zB. in der Bekämpfung und Prävention von Krankheiten, führen. Des Weiteren stellt die Honigbiene, auf Grund der einfachen Zusammensetzung ihrer Bakteriengemeinschaft im Magendarmtrakt, ein hervorragendes Model dar, um allgemeine Zusammenhänge zwischen Bakterien und Wirt zu untersuchen.  Daher wird unser Forschung grundlegende Prinzipien der komplexen Wechselwirkungen zwischen Darmbakterien und Wirt aufzeigen.



Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.11.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Gut symbionts from distinct hosts exhibit genotoxic activity via divergent colibactin biosynthesis pathways
Engel P, Vizcaino MI, Crawford JM (2015), Gut symbionts from distinct hosts exhibit genotoxic activity via divergent colibactin biosynthesis pathways, in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(4), 1502-1512.
The Bacterium Frischella perrara Causes Scab Formation in the Gut of its Honeybee Host.
Engel Philipp, Bartlett Kelsey D, Moran Nancy A (2015), The Bacterium Frischella perrara Causes Scab Formation in the Gut of its Honeybee Host., in mBio, 6(3), 1-8.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Nancy Moran, Yale University/University of Texas United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Laurent Keller, DEE, UNIL, Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Jason Crawford, Yale University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof Bruno Lemaitre, EPFL, Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Research Seminar at Centre for Social Evolution, Copenhagen, Denmark Individual talk Honey bee gut microbiota – A versatile model for microbial symbioses 28.03.2015 Copenhagen, Denmark Engel Philipp;
CEBUG seminar series in Bacteriology and Microbiology Individual talk Honey bee gut microbiota – A versatile model for microbial symbioses 01.12.2014 Geneva, Switzerland Engel Philipp;
Entomological society of America 2014 Talk given at a conference A genotoxic gut symbiont of honey bees with a unique colonization phenotype 16.11.2014 Portland, United States of America Engel Philipp;
International Union for the Study of Social Insects 2014 Talk given at a conference Hidden diversity in the gut microbiota of Apis mellifera 13.07.2014 Cairns, Australia Engel Philipp;
Think Different Seminar Series Individual talk The honey bee gut microbiota - a versatile model for microbial symbioses 21.03.2014 Basel, Switzerland Engel Philipp;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
DMF Impromptu 2014: "Diversity of Microbial Symbiosis: From Genomes to Molecules" 07.11.2014 Lausanne, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions UNIL Mystere Western Switzerland 2014

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
179487 Molecular crosstalk underlying symbiotic interactions in the honey bee gut microbiota 01.07.2018 Project funding
160345 Symbiotic roles of the honey bee gut microbiota 01.04.2015 Project funding
189496 Evolutionary dynamics of the gut microbiome across honey bees 01.01.2021 SPIRIT

Abstract

The gut microbiota is an important contributor to the health of animals. Recent advances in sequencing technologies have enabled capturing the taxonomic and functional diversity of these bacterial gut communities. However, the complexity of the gut microbiota of humans and other mammals still displays a formidable challenge for experimental investigation of symbiotic interactions in the gut. Valuable knowledge about underlying fundamental principles can be gained from organisms, which harbor less complex communities. The honey bee, Apis mellifera, presents such an animal. Its gut microbiota consists of only eight bacterial species, which form deep-branching phylogenetic lineages within different classes of Proteobacteria, the Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria. This indicates long-standing evolutionary associations with the host and suggests that these bacteria play important functional roles, which have so far remained elusive. We have established tools for experimental manipulation of this system. We can culture all bacteria of this community in the laboratory, generate microbiota-free bees, and re-colonize these bees with the cultured bacteria. This allows us to study symbiotic interactions in a simple system, which has evolved by natural selection. This makes the honey bee an excellent model for understanding general mechanisms underlying symbiosis in gut communities.The research of this project will center on Frischella perrara, one of two Gammaproteobacteria of the honey bee gut microbiota. Our current research has revealed that this species inhabits the pylorus, a specific region of the hindgut. In this region, F. perrara colonizes the epithelium of the host together with two other proteobacterial species, Gilliamella apicola and Snodgrassella alvi. While the latter two species are consistently present, colonization of F. perrara can vary across individual honey bees. Based on our preliminary data, we will investigate the symbiosis between F. perrara, the host, and other bacteria. The research will focus on fundamental aspects of gut microbiology, including community invasion, bacterial competition and selection, and genetic factors involved in host interaction. In addition, the proposed work has direct applied implications for agriculture and natural ecosystems, because the honey bee is an important pollinator and has recently faced drastic population declines. A better understanding of the role of the gut microbiota in honey bee health is crucial to develop rational strategies for disease management.
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