Honey bees are invaluable pollinators — cupids of the plant world facilitating the remixing of genes in the next generation of flowering vegetation. In return for their services, bees eat plant nectar and pollen. Nectar is an easily absorbable solution of sugars, but pollen contains plant cell walls, which have complex, branching chains of polysaccharides called pectin and hemicellulose. Honey bees rely on their gut microbiota to produce these enzymes to break down polysaccharides. An international team of researchers including JGI scientists has identified the major metabolic roles of constituent microbes. Read more on the JGI website.
Was this page useful?