Living With Pollinator Germs

Carpenter Bee

Male Carpenter Bee Landing on a Flower

Insects have populations of microbes on their cuticle that can vary among insect species. Microbes can be transferred to flowers from pollinators. A group of scientists* found that a visit from a pollinator can change the microbical composition on flowers. Carpenter bees, Xylocopa appendiculata circumvolans can carry a putative Lactobacillaceae that is not found on the other pollinators tested in the study. The scientists suggest that the presence of specific microorganisms on flowers are correlated with visits of specific pollinators and may be a way to assess the frequency of pollinator vists to flowers.

Ushio, Masayuki; Yamasaki, Eri; Takasu, Hiroyuki; Nagano, Atsushi J.; Fujinaga, Shohei; Honjo, Mie N.; Ikemoto, Mito; Sakai, Shoko; Kudoh, Hiroshi. 2015. Microbial communities on flower surfaces act as signatures of pollinator visitation. Nature. Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 8695
doi:10.1038/srep08695

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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