Microbial Transmission and Influence on Pollinator Health

4:00pm - 5:00pm / Tuesday 12th February 2019 / Venue: Lecture Theatre 1 Life Sciences Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Research / Series: BEEM Seminar
  • Suitable for: Staff and students with an interest in Behaviour, Evolution, Ecology and Microbiology
  • Admission: Free
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Speaker: Peter Graystock (Imperial College London)

Insect pollinators play important roles maintaining crop production and ecosystem stability – a service valued at over €150 billion per year. In the majority of landscapes bees are the most common and valued pollinators; however there is growing evidence of widespread declines in bee populations. In order to maintain food security and wild ecosystem health the maintenance of healthy bees is an important challenge. One of the major causes of bee declines is thought to be the effects of harmful parasites spreading across populations. Despite this, we know very little about how parasites spread horizontally between individuals or species. In addition, a diversity of microbes residing within bee guts can play a role improving bee health through a number of mechanisms including parasite defence and detoxifying harmful foods. The microbial ecology of bees is therefore an important component of their health via the presence and balance of both microparasites and microsymbionts. Here I will discuss findings relating to the threats and transmission routes of microparasites across wild bee communities before presenting a pioneering method to engineer microbial communities within the bee guts that improve host health.