Characterizing the Microbiome of Honey

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Abstract Summary

On nearly every surface and inside almost every organism, there are millions of tiny microbes that are invisible to the naked eye. Some of these microbes, known as symbionts, live in symbiosis or within other organisms. These tiny microbes include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Honeybees (Apis mellifera), like most insects, host symbionts in their guts. Previous research has identified and characterized nine bacterial species clusters that dominate the gut microbiome of honeybees. While the microbes in their hives and honey have not been as well characterized, we know that honeybees come into contact with a variety of microbes while foraging. The microbes that are present may depend on the season and region the hives that the honeybees are located in, as well as the gut microbial composition of workers in the hive. We used DNA metabarcoding to assess whether there are regional and/or temporal differences in the symbiotic environment of the guts of worker bees and the symbionts in stored honey. We will also address the following questions: What microbial symbionts are present in honey and how does the season impact that? How are these microbes related to the ones present in the guts of honeybees?

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