Insects; Microbes; Honey bee; Bee health; Symbiosis; Bacteria; Proteobacteria; Gut homeostasis; DNA damage; Pathogens; Gut microbiota
Hu Yi, Sanders Jon G., Łukasik Piotr, D’Amelio Catherine L., Millar John S., Vann David R., Lan Yemin, Newton Justin A., Schotanus Mark, Kronauer Daniel J. C., Pierce Naomi E., Moreau Corrie S., Wertz John T., Engel Philipp, Russell Jacob A. (2018), Herbivorous turtle ants obtain essential nutrients from a conserved nitrogen-recycling gut microbiome, in Nature Communications
, 9(1), 964-964.
Bonilla-Rosso Germán, Engel Philipp (2018), Functional roles and metabolic niches in the honey bee gut microbiota, in Current Opinion in Microbiology
, 43, 69-76.
Tamarit Daniel, Neuvonen Minna-Maria, Engel Philipp, Guy Lionel, Andersson Siv G E (2018), Origin and Evolution of the Bartonella Gene Transfer Agent, in Molecular Biology and Evolution
, 35(2), 451-464.
Kešnerová Lucie, Mars Ruben A. T., Ellegaard Kirsten M., Troilo Michaël, Sauer Uwe, Engel Philipp (2017), Disentangling metabolic functions of bacteria in the honey bee gut, in PLOS Biology
, 15(12), e2003467-e2003467.
Harms Alexander, Liesch Marius, Körner Jonas, Québatte Maxime, Engel Philipp, Dehio Christoph (2017), A bacterial toxin-antitoxin module is the origin of inter-bacterial and inter-kingdom effectors of Bartonella, in PLOS Genetics
, 13(10), e1007077-e1007077.
Segers Francisca HID, Kešnerová Lucie, Kosoy Michael, Engel Philipp (2017), Genomic changes associated with the evolutionary transition of an insect gut symbiont into a blood-borne pathogen, in The ISME Journal
, 11(5), 1232-1244.
Emery Olivier, Schmidt Konstantin, Engel Philipp (2017), Immune system stimulation by the gut symbiont Frischella perrara in the honey bee ( Apis mellifera ), in Molecular Ecology
, 26(9), 2576-2590.
Harms Alexander, Segers Francisca H.I.D., Quebatte Maxime, Mistl Claudia, Manfredi Pablo, Körner Jonas, Chomel Bruno B., Kosoy Michael, Maruyama Soichi, Engel Philipp, Dehio Christoph (2017), Evolutionary Dynamics of Pathoadaptation Revealed by Three Independent Acquisitions of the VirB/D4 Type IV Secretion System in Bartonella, in Genome Biology and Evolution
, 9(3), 761-776.
Powell J. Elijah, Leonard Sean P., Kwong Waldan K., Engel Philipp, Moran Nancy A. (2016), Genome-wide screen identifies host colonization determinants in a bacterial gut symbiont, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, 113(48), 13887-13892.
Ellegaard Kirsten M., Engel Philipp (2016), Beyond 16S rRNA Community Profiling: Intra-Species Diversity in the Gut Microbiota, in Frontiers in Microbiology
, 7, 1475.
Gut microbial communities are important determinants of animal and human health. However, their complex composition displays a formidable challenge for studying symbiotic interactions in the gut. Simple model systems assist the discovery of fundamental principles of gut symbioses that are highly relevant to human health. The honey bee, Apis mellifera, represents such a model, because its gut microbiota consists of only eight bacterial species. These bacteria have long-standing evolutionary associations with their host suggesting important symbiotic roles that have largely remained elusive. Because honey bees are important pollinators suffering from severe population declines, a better understanding of factors influencing their health status is of broad interest, and the characteristic gut microbiota could be an important determinant.The main goals of this SNSF project are to study symbiotic roles of the gut microbiota affecting bee health (research objective 1) and to address general questions of gut microbiology (research objective 2). This research is based on my previous work in which I used genomic approaches to characterize the bee gut microbiota and established experimental tools for functional studies. We can culture now all bacterial members of the bee gut microbiota, generate microbiota-free bees, and re-colonize these bees with selected bacterial cultures. In the proposed research, this will allow us to study symbiotic interactions in a simple, but natural gut ecosystem of general relevance. Research objective 1 aims to elucidate the influence of the gut microbiota on pathogen susceptibility of honey bees. Together with a PhD student funded by this SNSF project, we will first establish colonization models in which we will transplant complete bacterial gut communities from conventional bees into microbiota-free bees (aim 1.1). We will then use these colonization models to test the influence of the gut microbiota on pathogen colonization and host resistance in controlled laboratory experiments (aim 1.2). Finally, we will identify bacterial community members contributing to identified symbiotic functions and study their underlying mechanisms of action (aim 1.3). Most studies focusing on honey bee health have not considered the influence of the gut microbiota and the proposed research will provide novel insights into the role of these bacteria. In the long run, our findings may contribute to the development of novel strategies to improve bee colony management. This makes our research not only relevant to basic science, but also to applied science supporting agricultural research and bee keeping industries.Research objective 2 will display a continuation of my Ambizione fellowship addressing more general aspects of gut microbiology. The focus of this research lies on Frischella perrara, a gammaproteobacterial gut symbiont, which colonizes a restricted niche in the bee gut and causes a remarkable host response, the deposition of melanin on the luminal surface of the gut. In addition, F. perrara encodes genes for the synthesis of a genotoxic small molecule that was shown for E. coli to cause DNA damage on eukaryotic cells and contribute to tumor formation in the human gut. Together with a second PhD student funded by this SNSF project, we will study the role of F. perrara for symbiosis in the bee gut, including its impact on gut homeostasis (aim 2.1) and host fitness (aim 2.2). We will analyze gene functions of F. perrara underlying symbiotic interactions in the bee gut (aim 2.3), and we will study the role of the genotoxic small molecule for symbiosis (aim 2.4). Taken together, the proposed work will address current questions of gut microbiology and honey bee health, combining two topics of biology and medical research which have recently received greatest attention. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, our research will interest a broad scientific community and is expected to receive international recognition. The main applicant and two PhD students funded by this grant will conduct the proposed research. We will collaborate with researchers at the University of Lausanne, the EPF Lausanne, the University of Berne, Agroscope Liebefeld, and Yale University. The SNSF project grant will replace my recently awarded SNSF Ambizione grant.