February 13, 2020
Previous studies have linked the microbiome to vast number of abilities including food digestion, vitamin production, mood regulation and much more. A new study in wasps appears to have uncovered an unexpected ability of the microbiome; pesticide protection.
A study conducted at Harvard University focused on the gut bacteria, or microbiome of a parasitoid wasp. They were able to observe how the composition of bacteria in the microbiome changed in response to exposure to a pesticide called atrazine. When the wasps were fed water containing a dose of the pesticide the ratio of their gut microbes changed as some bacteria became more prevalent, in particular two rare bacteria capable of breaking down atrazine.
The researchers observed female wasps covering their eggs with these chemical consuming bacteria, which conferred the pesticide resistant microbes to their offspring. When each generation of wasp was fed a lower level of atrazine they became almost completely resistant after 36 generations, however, if their gut microbes were altered to remove the beneficial bacteria they were once again susceptible to the chemical. This proves the resistance was linked to the bacteria, not just a natural adaptation. The team now plans to investigate these bacteria more closely and determine if they could be utilized as probiotics.
Source: Popular Science
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