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Hibernation leads to altered gut communities in Bumblebee queens (Bombus terrestris)

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  • L. Bosmans
  • M.I. Pozo
  • C. Verreth
  • S. Crauwels
  • F. Wäckers
  • H. Jacquemyn
  • B. Lievens
Article number9040188
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>7/12/2018
Issue number4
Number of pages14
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Many reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and insects practice some form of hibernation during which their metabolic rate is drastically reduced. This allows them to conserve energy and survive the harsh winter conditions with little or no food. While it can be expected that a reduction in host metabolism has a substantial influence on the gut microbial community, little is known about the effects of hibernation on the composition of the microbial gut community, especially for insects. In this study, we assessed and compared the bacterial gut community composition within the midgut and ileum of indoor-reared queens of Bombus terrestris before and after an artificial hibernation period of 16 weeks. Deep sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicons and clustering of sequence reads into operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at a similarity threshold of 97% revealed several bacterial taxa that are known to be strongly associated with corbiculate bees. Bacterial community composition after hibernation compared to before hibernation was characterized by higher OTU richness and evenness, with decreased levels of the core bacteria Gilliamella (Proteobacteria, Orbaceae) and Snodgrassella (Proteobacteria, Neisseriaceae), and increased relative abundance of non-core bacteria, including several psychrophilic and psychrotrophic taxa. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.