Standard methods for research on Apis mellifera gut symbionts

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Journal of Apicultural Research Vol. 52(4)
DOI 10.3896/IBRA.
Date September 2013
Article Title

Standard methods for research on Apis mellifera gut symbionts


Philipp Engel, Rosalind R James, Ryuichi Koga, Waldan K Kwong, Quinn S McFrederick and Nancy A Moran


Gut microbes can play an important role in digestion, disease resistance, and the general health of animals, but little is known about the biology of gut symbionts in Apis mellifera. As part of the BEEBOOK series describing honey bee research methods, we provide standard protocols for studying gut symbionts. We describe non-culture-based approaches based on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), methodology that has greatly improved our ability to identify the microbial communities associated with honey bees. We also describe Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (FISH) microscopy, which allows a visual examination of the microenvironments where particular microbes occur. Culturing methods are also described, as they allow the researcher to isolate particular bacteria of interest for further study or gene identification, and enable the assignment of particular functions to particular gut community members. We hope these methods will help others advance the state of knowledge regarding bee gut symbionts and the role they play in honey bee health.


COLOSS, BEEBOOK, fluorescent in situ hybridization, gut symbionts, methods, microbial culture, next generation sequencing, honey bee

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