A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) has isolated three previously unknown bacterial species from wild bees and flowers. The bacteria, which belong to the genus Lactobacillus, may play a role in preserving the nectar and pollen that female bees store in their nests as food for their larvae. The results were published online on April 12, 2018 in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. The article is titled “Lactobacillus micheneri sp. nov., Lactobacillus timberlakei sp. nov., and Lactobacillus quenuiae sp. nov., Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Wild Bees and Flowers." The study was led by Dr. Quinn McFrederick, an Assistant Professor of Entomology in UCR's College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences. Symbiotic bacteria that live in bee guts are believed to promote bee health by helping to digest food and boost immunity. Compared to honeybees and bumblebees, little is known about the microbial communities associated with wild bees, despite the important role these insects play in the pollination of flowering plants. To study the bacteria associated with wild bees, Dr. McFrederick and co-authors collected wild bees and flowers from two sites in Texas and on the UCR campus. Genomic DNA sequencing, coupled with traditional taxonomic analyses, confirmed the isolation of three new Lactobacillus species, which are closely related to the honeybee-associated bacteria Lactobacillus kunkeei. The news strains are: Lactobacillus micheneri, named after Dr. Charles D. Michener to honor his contributions to the study of bees in natural habitats; Lactobacillus timberlakei, named after Dr. Philip Timberlake to honor his work on the taxonomy of native bees, especially at UC Riverside; and Lactobacillus quenuiae, named after Dr.
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