Empirical, Metagenomic, and Computational Techniques Illuminate the Mechanisms by which Fungicides Compromise Bee Health

Shawn A. Steffan, Prarthana S. Dharampal, Luis Diaz-Garcia, Cameron R. Currie, Juan Zalapa, Chris Todd Hittinger
  • Journal of Visualized Experiments, October 2017, MyJove Corporation
  • DOI: 10.3791/54631

Pollen-borne fungicides mediate important bee-microbe symbioses

What is it about?

Fungicide residues in pollen appear to alter the microbial communities of fermenting pollen-provisions. This has been associated with increased mortality in larval bumble bees. Thus, it appears that by shuffling the microbial communities of fermenting 'beebread,' fungicides may indirectly harm larval bees.

Why is it important?

Bees are critical pollinators of flowering crops. Fungicides are thought to be 'bee safe' and are sprayed on flowering crops globally. If fungicide residues in pollen are bad for bees, especially solitary bees (non-social bee species), this may explain the persistent declines in both managed and wild bee populations.


Dr Shawn A. Steffan (Author)
University of Wisconsin System

More work is needed to better characterize the mechanism(s) by which certain fungicides harm bee larvae.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Shawn A. Steffan