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Data: 08.12.2022
Czas rozpoczęcia: 1:00-2:00 pm
Miejsce: room 1.1.1 (INOS building)
Organizator: Instytut Nauk o Środowisku

PhD Helena Virta (University of Helsinki): Honeybees through DNA in the honey.

University of Helsinki

guest of the Symbiosis Evolution Research group IES JU



To assess a species’ impact in an environment, we need to know the functions of a species, their functional niche. Honeybees are important pollinators, but they likely have other impacts in their environment as well. Here we use the DNA contents of honey to assess honeybees’ functions.

Based on data from metagenomics and DNA metabarcoding of honey samples from North-Europe and specifically from Finland, we identify the taxa from which the DNA originates and assign the taxa to ecological groups.

Most of the DNA sequences are from gut microbes of honeybees, showing honeybees host microbes that are both beneficial and detrimental to themselves. The second most abundant group are plants, showing North-European honeybees feed on and pollinate mostly cultivated plants.

Based on the very high frequency of occurrence of pathogens associated with plants, bees and other animals, honeybees appear to be spread them, but also microbes protective of those pathogens.

The roles of honeybees, based on the different taxa they interact with, varies across the summer season, but also largely according to the sites of the hives, even locally. Not only the plants honeybees interact with, but also the microbes vary. With these, honey-borne DNA can describe honeybees’ functions at different times and in different areas, and guide us to look at relevant associations.