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Assessing chemical mechanisms underlying the effects of sunflower pollen on a gut pathogen in bumble bees

Assessing chemical mechanisms underlying the effects of sunflower pollen on a gut pathogen in bumble bees

Adler, Lynn S., Fowler, Alison E., Malfi, Rosemary L., Anderson, Patrick R., Coppinger, Lily M., Deneen, Phoebe M., Lopez, Stephanie, Irwin, Rebecca E., Farrell, Iain W. and Stevenson, Philip C. ORCID: 0000-0002-0736-3619 (2020) Assessing chemical mechanisms underlying the effects of sunflower pollen on a gut pathogen in bumble bees. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 46 (8). pp. 649-658. ISSN 0098-0331 (Print), 1573-1561 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-020-01168-4)

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Abstract

Many pollinator species are declining due to a variety of interacting stressors including pathogens, sparking interest in understanding factors that could mitigate these outcomes. Diet can affect host-pathogen interactions by changing nutritional reserves or providing bioactive secondary chemicals. Recent work found that sunflower pollen (Helianthus annuus) dramatically reduced cell counts of the gut pathogen Crithidia bombi in bumble bee workers (Bombus impatiens), but the mechanism underlying this effect is unknown. Here we analyzed methanolic extracts of sunflower pollen by LC-MS and identified triscoumaroyl spermidines as the major secondary metabolite components, along with a flavonoid quercetin-3-O-hexoside and a quercetin-3-O-(6-O-malonyl)-hexoside. We then tested the effect of triscoumaroyl spermidine and rutin (as a proxy for quercetin glycosides) on Crithidia infection in B. impatiens, compared to buckwheat pollen (Fagopyrum esculentum) as a negative control and sunflower pollen as a positive control. In addition, we tested the effect of nine fatty acids from sunflower pollen individually and in combination using similar methods. Although sunflower pollen consistently reduced Crithidia relative to control pollen, none of the compounds we tested had significant effects. In addition, diet treatments did not affect mortality, or sucrose or pollen consumption. Thus, the mechanisms underlying the medicinal effect of sunflower are still unknown; future work could use bioactivity-guided fractionation to more efficiently target compounds of interest, and explore non-chemical mechanisms. Ultimately, identifying the mechanism underlying the effect of sunflower pollen on pathogens will open up new avenues for managing bee health.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bee pathogens, Bombus impatiens, Crithidia bombi, Helianthus annuus, pollen chemistry, pollinator health
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Chemical Ecology Research Group
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2020 12:42
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/27191

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