Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Entomology

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer A. White

Abstract

Solitary bees are important pollinators of crops, with species in the family Megachilidae (mason bees) being used for orchard pollination. Commercial movement of these bees also moves their microbiota, including bacterial endosymbionts capable of reproductive manipulation. To test for presence of these bacteria, I screened commercially available species of US orchard pollinators and locally captured solitary bees from Kentucky. I also set up mason bee boxes in five apple orchards to examine recruitment of local pollinators. I conducted 454-pyrosequencing to determine bacterial diversity within four species followed by diagnostic PCR of 30 collected species (184 individuals) to determine infection frequency of selected endosymbionts. Consistent with literature, Wolbachia was abundant in these bees. I also found two other endosymbiotic bacteria, Sodalis (previously undetected in Hymenoptera), and Arsenophonus. Diagnostic screening demonstrated that Sodalis was present at moderate frequency in Osmia aglaia, whereas Arsenophonus was present at low frequency in Lasioglossum pilosum. Neither was found in other bees, but three bee species were infected with Sodalis-like endosymbionts. Although recruitment of bees to bee boxes was ineffective, I was able to independently collect native orchard pollinating Andrenidae species. My results demonstrate that other endosymbionts capable of reproductive manipulation, besides Wolbachia, are present in bees.

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