Do Honeybees Shape the Bacterial Community Composition in Floral Nectar?

Yana Aizenberg-Gershtein, Ido Izhaki, Malka Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Floral nectar is considered the most important reward animal-pollinated plants offer to attract pollinators. Here we explore whether honeybees, which act as pollinators, affect the composition of bacterial communities in the nectar. Nectar and honeybees were sampled from two plant species: Amygdalus communis and Citrus paradisi. To prevent the contact of nectar with pollinators, C. paradisi flowers were covered with net bags before blooming (covered flowers). Comparative analysis of bacterial communities in the nectar and on the honeybees was performed by the 454-pyrosequencing technique. No significant differences were found among bacterial communities in honeybees captured on the two different plant species. This resemblance may be due to the presence of dominant bacterial OTUs, closely related to the Arsenophonus genus. The bacterial communities of the nectar from the covered and uncovered C. paradisi flowers differed significantly; the bacterial communities on the honeybees differed significantly from those in the covered flowers' nectar, but not from those in the uncovered flowers' nectar. We conclude that the honeybees may introduce bacteria into the nectar and/or may be contaminated by bacteria introduced into the nectar by other sources such as other pollinators and nectar thieves.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere67556
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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