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Bacterial diversity in the Australian Honey bee gut and the potential for development of probiotics

February 21 @ 7:30 am - 9:00 pm

Bacterial diversity in the Australian Honey bee gut and the potential for development of probiotics

Murali Nayudu , Michael Frese, Sheba Khan, Craig Macarthur, Eowyn Osborne and Doug Somerville*

  Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Canberra
* NSW Department of Primary Industries,  Goulburn,  NSW

Bacteria interact with a wide variety of higher organisms.  In fact it has been suggested that all organisms harbour associated micro-organisms.  These interactions can range from symbiotic to pathogenic.  In particular there are significant associations of bacteria in the guts of animals. The gut microflora associated with the European honeybeeApis mellifera has been studied in the US.  However, studies have mainly focused on the micro-organisms that are detrimental to European honey bee. Gilliam (1997) isolated bacteria, yeasts and moulds from intestinal tract of A. mellifera that could inhibit the fungal chalkbrood pathogen. Ruiz- Arguezo & Rodreguez-Navarro (1973) isolated gluconic acid producing bacteria associated with honey bees and ripening honey from Madrid in Spain. However, the role of micro-organisms in honeybee tissues is still uncertain.  It is not clear if the bacteria found within bee tissues, in particular are simply transient gut bacteria passing through the digestive tract from inoculated food sources, or if they have an association with A. mellifera.  The role of bacteria in Australian A. mellifera is unknown as it has not been previously studied. The Australian continent contains unique flora, fauna and microbes as it has been geographically isolated.

A major study over 10 years by our group was the first in the world to characterize bacteria associated with honeybees in detail. Honeybee samples were collected from hives with different nutritional profiles from all the states around Australia. The correlation of honey bee gut bacteria with diseases such as chalkbrood will be discussed.  The nature of some of the Australian honey bee gut bacteria and the mechanisms they use to kill the chalkbrood pathogenAscosphaera apis has been elucidated. We will then talk about our current project in using native Australian bacteria in developing probiotics for bees.

Brief Bio (use what you think is relevant)

Dr Murali Nayudu

Research scientist has worked on drug resistance in bacteria and a number of Plant microbe interactions involving Rhizobium nitrogen fixing bacteria and using Pseudomonas biocontrol bacteria against root diseases such as take-all.  His last major $2 million grant (funded by GRDC and Grain Growers Association) led to the licensing of bacterial strains to Philom Bios Australia Ltd for commercialisation. Dr Nayudu is the major inventor on two patents granted worldwide.

Dr Michael Frese

Dr Frese is an Assistant Professor for Immunology at the University of Canberra. He has extensive research experience in molecular biology, taxonomy and microscopy. He has published a total of nearly 75 papers. He has a history of successful grant applications in both Germany and Australia. He also has experience in commercialization; e.g., his provisional patent on the genetic manipulation of hepatitis delta virus
yielded licensing fees of over $300,000. Dr Frese is involved with microbiology and the molecular biology aspects of this work.

Dr Sheba Khan

Sheba did a successful PhD project in this area and she has been the main contributor in our understanding of the bacterial diversity present in Australian honey bees.

Mr Craig McArthur and Ms Eowyn Osborne

Current Research Associates working on developing probiotics for Australian honey bees.

Dr Doug Somerville

Dr Somerville is an eminent Australian apiculture specialist. He is a technical specialist on honey bees.  His expert knowledge, especially for sampling bee gut bacteria and conducting field experiments, has been vital in the success of this project.

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February 21
7:30 am - 9:00 pm
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Yarralumla Primary School Hall
Loftus street
Yarralumla, Australian Capital Territory 2600 Australia
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