Article Spotlight: Identification of fungi isolated from commercial bumblebee colonies

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Article Spotlight

"Over 2 million bumblebee colonies are traded globally every year, but the presence and transport of viable fungi within them is unknown."

We collected samples of various substrates from within 14 bumblebee colonies, including the honey, honey cup wall, egg cup wall, and frass then placed them on agar and recorded any growth. Fungal morphotypes were then subcultured and their ITS region sequenced for identification. Overall, we cultured 11 fungal species from the various nest substrates. 

“Polinator associated microbes are generally quite understudied. We wanted to explore the microbes associates with some alternate bee species rather than the traditional honey bee.”

Miles Nesbit

Lead Co-Author, Imperial College London,

For All Readers - AI Explainer

What were the main findings of the research on fungi isolated from commercial bumblebee colonies?

The study identified 11 culturable fungal species within various substrates of commercial bumblebee nests, including both pathogenic and non-pathogenic fungi like Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Candida.

Why is it important to study the fungal communities in bumblebee colonies?

Understanding fungal communities in bumblebee colonies is vital due to their potential effects on bee health and ecosystem stability. With millions of bumblebee colonies traded globally annually, assessing the presence and role of fungi within them is essential.

What are the plans for further investigating the significance of these fungi in bumblebee colonies?

Future research will focus on determining whether these fungi are unique to commercial colonies or prevalent in wild bumblebee nests. Additionally, the aim is to uncover the functional significance of these fungi and their interactions with bumblebees, including ecological and evolutionary implications.

What are the potential implications of these findings for conservation efforts and ecosystem health?

Understanding the role of fungi in bumblebee colonies is critical for conservation efforts and maintaining ecosystem health. By understanding these interactions, conservation strategies can be better informed to ensure the continued provision of pollination services by bumblebees, which are essential for ecosystem stability and food security.



Identification of fungi isolated from commercial bumblebee colonies

Fungi can have important beneficial and detrimental effects on animals, yet our understanding of the diversity and function of most bee-associated fungi is poor. Over 2 million bumblebee colonies are traded globally every year, but the presence and transport of viable fungi within them is unknown. Here, we explored whether any culturable fungi could be isolated from commercial bumblebee nests. 

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