Journal of Microbiology

, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 735–745 | Cite as

Pyrosequencing analysis of the bacterial communities in the guts of honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera in Korea

  • Jae-Hyung Ahn
  • In-Pyo Hong
  • Jeung-Im Bok
  • Byung-Yong Kim
  • Jaekyeong Song
  • Hang-Yeon WeonEmail author


The bacterial communities in the guts of the adults and larvae of the Asian honey bee Apis cerana and the European honey bee Apis mellifera were surveyed by pyrosequencing the 16S rRNA genes. Most of the gut bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences were highly similar to the known honey bee-specific ones and affiliated with Pasteurellaceae or lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The numbers of operational taxonomic units (OTUs, defined at 97% similarity) were lower in the larval guts (6 or 9) than in the adult guts (18 or 20), and the frequencies of Pasteurellaceae-related OTUs were higher in the larval guts while those of LAB-related OTUs in the adult guts. The frequencies of Lactococcus, Bartonella, Spiroplasma, Enterobacteriaceae, and Flavobacteriaceae-related OTUs were much higher in A. cerana guts while Bifidobacterium and Lachnospiraceae-related OTUs were more abundant in A. mellfera guts. The bacterial community structures in the midguts and hindguts of the adult honey bees were not different for A. cerana, but significantly different for A. mellifera. The above results substantiated the previous observation that honey bee guts are dominated by several specific bacterial groups, and also showed that the relative abundances of OTUs could be markedly changed depending on the developmental stage, the location within the gut, and the honey bee species. The possibility of using the gut bacterial community as an indicator of honey bee health was discussed.


honey bee gut bacterial community 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing 


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Copyright information

© The Microbiological Society of Korea and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jae-Hyung Ahn
    • 1
  • In-Pyo Hong
    • 1
  • Jeung-Im Bok
    • 1
  • Byung-Yong Kim
    • 1
  • Jaekyeong Song
    • 1
  • Hang-Yeon Weon
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.National Academy of Agricultural ScienceRural Development AdministrationSuwonRepublic of Korea

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