University of Oulu

Li, L., Solvi, C., Zhang, F. et al. Gut microbiome drives individual memory variation in bumblebees. Nat Commun 12, 6588 (2021).

Gut microbiome drives individual memory variation in bumblebees

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Author: Li, Li1; Solvi, Cwyn2,3; Zhang, Feng4;
Organizations: 1State Key Laboratory of Food Science and Technology, School of Food Science and Technology, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, Jiangsu, 214122, China
2Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, E1 4NS, UK
4Affiliated Hospital of Jiangnan University, Wuxi, Jiangsu, 214122, China
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-02-08


The potential of the gut microbiome as a driver of individual cognitive differences in natural populations of animals remains unexplored. Here, using metagenomic sequencing of individual bumblebee hindguts, we find a positive correlation between the abundance of Lactobacillus Firm-5 cluster and memory retention on a visual discrimination task. Supplementation with the Firm-5 species Lactobacillus apis, but not other non-Firm-5 bacterial species, enhances bees’ memory. Untargeted metabolomics after L. apis supplementation show increased LPA (14:0) glycerophospholipid in the haemolymph. Oral administration of the LPA increases long-term memory significantly. Based on our findings and metagenomic/metabolomic analyses, we propose a molecular pathway for this gut-brain interaction. Our results provide insights into proximate and ultimate causes of cognitive differences in natural bumblebee populations.

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Series: Nature communications
ISSN: 2041-1723
ISSN-E: 2041-1723
ISSN-L: 2041-1723
Volume: 12
Issue: 1
Article number: 6588
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26833-4
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: This work was supported by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (no. 2019M651709), Natural Science Foundation for Youths of Jiangsu Province, China (no. BK20190598) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 32100385) to L.L., and by the National Key Research and Development Programme of China (no. 2017YFC1601704), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 1522044, 31671909 and 31772034), the Programme of the Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Advanced Food Manufacturing Equipment & Technology (no. FMZ201904), the National First-Class Discipline Programme of Food Science and Technology (no. JUFSTR20180205) to W.Z. C.S. was supported by a Templeton World Charity Foundation project grant (no. TWCF0539).
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