Honeybees and Beehives are Rich Sources for Fructophilic Lactic Acid Bacteria
Systematic and Applied Microbiology, Available online 8 July 2013
Fructophilic lactic acid bacteria (FLAB) are a specific group of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) characterized and described only recently. They prefer fructose as growth substrate and inhabit only fructose-rich niches. Honeybees are high-fructose-consuming insects and important pollinators in nature, but reported to be decreasing in the wild.
In the present study, we analyzed FLAB microbiota in honeybees, larvae, fresh honey and bee pollen. A total of 66 strains of LAB were isolated from samples using a selective isolation technique for FLAB. Surprisingly, all strains showed fructophilic characteristics. The 66 strains and ten FLAB strains isolated from flowers in a separate study were genotypically separated into six groups, four of which being identified as Lactobacillus kunkeei and two as Fructobacillus fructosus. One of the L. kunkeei isolates showed antibacterial activity against Melissococcus plutonius, a causative pathogen of European foulbrood, this protection being attributable to production of an antibacterial peptide or protein. Culture-independent analysis suggested that bee products and larvae contained simple Lactobacillus-group microbiota, dominated by L. kunkeei, although adult bees carried a more complex microbiota.
The findings clearly demonstrate that honeybees and their products are rich sources of FLAB, and FLAB are potential candidates for future bee probiotics.