The waste that bees dump into their hives can contain valuable insights into public health in cities.A study published in the journal this week environmental microbiome, Scientists shared a new method to gather microbial information from the environment using bee remains. Identifying urban bacteria can give researchers a snapshot of urban microbiome diversity, which could lead to improved health outcomes. The technology may also help monitor bacteria and viruses that cause disease between bees and humans.
Microbes are invisible, but they play an important behind-the-scenes role in shaping our survival. For example, the microbes in the human gut are the first line of defense against “bad” bacteria that support digestion, keep the immune system healthy, and cause food poisoning and other infections. , healthier and happier. One way to increase this diversity is through interaction with the external environment.
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“lots of [microbes] It’s beneficial to human health,” says lead study author Elizabeth Hennaf, assistant professor at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. “The goal of this research is to understand the full picture of microbiome diversity and the microbiomes we interact with in urban environments.”
Hénaff and her colleagues wanted to create microbial maps of different cities to better understand the diversity of each region. But I wasn’t sure what the best way to move forward was. One idea was to wipe the nose, but it’s not practical to swab everyone in a wide and diverse area. Urban microbiomes can also vary from block to block, requiring extensive swabs. Another option for her was monitoring wastewater, but the researchers wanted to look at everything that city dwellers came in contact with, not just what they ingested.then came Ahaha Moment: They were able to study beehives.
This is because bees constantly interact with their environment when searching for nectar, and when returning to their hives, they often bring back some bacteria, fungi, and other microbes from their travels. When we’re traversing all these microbial clouds that relate to other aspects of the built environment,” explains Hénaff. “They crossed ponds, bodies of water, and microbial clouds in human groups if they happened to be in the same park.”
Scientists have used a technique called metagenomic sequencing to study all the genes found in a single environmental sample. This allowed them to match the genes to different microbial species associated with hive health and, in turn, the health of the bees. But first they had to figure out which samples needed to be collected from the hive.
In a pilot project in Brooklyn, New York, scientists worked with local beekeepers. They took swab samples of honey, propolis (the resin-like substance used to line hives), debris, and dead bees, whatever could provide the most information about the microbes.
They then found that the microbes found in honey and propolis were similar throughout the hive. . The only material that varied from hive to hive was debris left on the bottom of the hive, which became the source collected in the next set of experiments.
To profile the urban microbiome, the team collected debris samples from 17 groomed hives from four global cities: Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, Tokyo and Venice. The DNA extracted from the bee remains contained material from a variety of sources, including local plants, mammals, insects, bacteria and fungi.
Each city had its own microbial profile, giving us a snapshot of what life was like there. bottom. Hénaff says the findings make sense because most buildings are built on submerged wooden pilings. In Australia, his two hives in Melbourne contained large amounts of eucalyptus DNA, whereas the Sydney hive had Gordonia polyisoprenivorans, it will break down the rubber. Dozens of hives in Tokyo showed genetic hints for lotus and wild soybeans, common plants found in East Asia. Soy sauce fermented yeast called soy sauce was also at high levels. Zygosaccharomyces rouxii.
“The most interesting thing for me is [the results] It didn’t feel like an indicator that was separate from everything else we knew about these cities and their cultures, but it was actually a way of being that fit with our general understanding of these cities. It felt like a piece of a puzzle that I didn’t know about,” says Hennaf.
The debris also helped identify microbes involved in bee health. The team found microbial species in three bee crops.Lactobacillus Kunkei, Saccharibacter AM169and Frishella Perara— along with five species associated with insect gut health. Three bee pathogens were also identified city-wide.
The study then identified that bees can pick up human pathogens when they go outside. The researchers focused on the hive information collected in Tokyo because it had more hives than other cities and had more data for DNA sequencing. They detected two germs on him. One can cause bacillary dysentery and the other is related to cat scratch disease. They then took the pathogen behind cat-scratch fever, rickettsia felis, and reconstructed the genome. By doing so, they were able to not only confirm that the species was in the city, but that it had bacteria-associated molecules that allowed it to spread disease.
[Related: 5 ways to keep bees buzzing that don’t require a hive]
Profiling the microbiomes of different cities could be an additional tool for detecting pathogens potentially harmful to humans, Hénaff said. It also has the potential to open new ways to investigate airborne pathogens that have been of increasing interest since the recent arrival of SARS-CoV-2.
Jay Evans, a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who was not involved in the study, said the new approach was “fantastic” and could at least help identify microbes found in urban floral environments. However, he expressed reservations about overestimating some of the results. and is consistent with the best microbes available at this time. This suggests that some genetic matches with bacteria may not actually be suitable and further testing is needed to confirm their presence. Because researchers can pick up non-living hitchhikers like this, researchers can contrast these biological results with studies specific to insecticides and compare how it affects the nest microbiome. is a good thing, says Evans.