Surveys for maternally-inherited endosymbionts reveal novel and variable infections within solitary bee species

Abiya Saeed, Jennifer A. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Maternally-inherited bacteria can affect the fitness and population dynamics of their host insects; for solitary bees, such effects have the potential to influence bee efficacy as pollinators. We screened bee species for bacterial associates using 454-pyrosequencing (4 species) and diagnostic PCR (183 specimens across 29 species). The endosymbiont Wolbachia was abundant, infecting 18 species, including all specimens from the family Halictidae. Among commercially-supplied orchard bees (family Megachilidae), only 2/7 species were Wolbachia-infected, but one species showed variable infection among specimens. Two other maternally-inherited bacteria, Arsenophonus and Sodalis, were also detected, neither of which was fixed in infection frequency. Differential endosymbiont infection could potentially compromise fitness and reproductive compatibility among commercially redistributed pollinator populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-114
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank A. Dehnel, A. Maldonado, and A. Styer for technical support, and K. Clark, E. Dobbs, D. Hunter, R. Lee, D. Shreeve, K. Strickland, and E. Sugden for assistance in acquiring specimens. In addition, we thank L. Ayres, T. Boyd, K. Evans, C. Peek, and D. Reed for the use of their orchards in bee collections. The information reported in this paper (No. 15-08-113) is part of a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director. This research was funded by the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology , and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch project KY008052. AS was supported by Kentucky’s National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research , grant 0814194 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Arsenophonus
  • Bacterial endosymbionts
  • Hymenoptera
  • Sodalis
  • Vertical transmission
  • Wolbachia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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