Life Sciences Seminar: Poisoned Pollinators, Microbes to the Rescue
Poisoned Pollinators, Microbes to the Rescue: Toxicants Affect Bees and Their Microbiomes
Dr. Jason Rothman
Post Doctoral Research Fellow
University of California
Attendees will learn about the impact of contaminated soils and its major impact on bee physiology and bee microbiomes. The presentation will discuss Rothman's work with microbiome sequencing, mass spectrometry, bioinformatics, and whole-organism studies.
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Bees are important pollinators in agricultural and natural settings who encounter toxicants while foraging on plants growing in contaminated soils. How these chemicals affect bee physiology and the bee microbiome - which confers health benefits to the host - is an important but understudied topic. Through a combination of microbiome sequencing, mass spectrometry metabolomics, inductively coupled plasma spectrometry, bioinformatics, and whole-organism studies, I will show some of the effects that toxicants have on social bees and their microbes. Due to the pervasiveness of pollution in bee habitats and the importance of the microbiome, I present several studies investigating the effects of metals and metalloids on social bee physiology and their microbial symbionts. First, I used LC-MS metabolomics to assay the biochemical effects of toxicant exposure on bees, and show that exposure shifts overall metabolism, and associates with proteolysis and lipolysis. I then present a study where bees were exposed to metals and metalloids, then sequenced their symbiotic microbiomes. Each toxicant altered microbiome diversity, and bee symbionts show interstrain variation in their toxicant tolerance genes. I extended this study to show that the microbiome protects bees against metalloid poisoning in vivo and propose a potential probiotic use for bee-associated bacteria to bioaccumulate metals and metalloids. Through a combination of ’omics methods, I will demonstrate that metals and metalloids affect bees’ physiology and their microbiomes, and there is the potential for microbes to protect against toxic pollution. I intend to further this research through studying the interactions that introduced and native bees, along with their associated microbes, have with Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CECs) – compounds common in human-associated and natural environments. My research has the potential to discover protective mechanisms for bees against a variety of chemical insults, and uncover multipartite interactions occurring between bees, their resources, and the environment.
Dr. Jason Rothman is joining us from The University of California: Irvine. During his PhD, he worked with Dr. Quinn McFrederick at the University of California, Roverside, where he investigated the effects that environmental pollution has on the microbial ecology of social bees, and how we may leverage these microbes to protect pollinator health. Dr. Rothman also studied the microbial ecology of floral resources on bees. Dr. Rothman is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California; Irvine. He is currently studying the impacts of stress on the microbiome and metabome of families living in rural poverty. He leads the campus’s SARA-CoV-2 metagenomic wastewater detection program. He is a lecturer at Cal Poly Pomona and Teaching Associate at UC Riverside. His research expertise is in microbiome studies through next generation sequencing metabolomics and metagenomics.
Undergraduates, graduates, and experts. Those with interest in the topic.
When and Where
Open to the Public