University of Oulu

Marjo Helander, Aditya Jeevannavar, Kimmo Kaakinen, Suni A Mathew, Kari Saikkonen, Benjamin Fuchs, Pere Puigbò, Olli J Loukola, Manu Tamminen, Glyphosate and a glyphosate-based herbicide affect bumblebee gut microbiota, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Volume 99, Issue 7, July 2023, fiad065,

Glyphosate and a glyphosate-based herbicide affect bumblebee gut microbiota

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Author: Helander, Marjo1; Jeevannavar, Aditya1; Kaakinen, Kimmo1;
Organizations: 1Department of Biology, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland
2Biodiversity Unit, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland
3Nutrition and Health Unit, Eurecat Technology Centre of Catalonia, 43204 Reus, Catalonia, Spain
4Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Rovira i Virgili University, 43002 Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain
5Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oxford University Press, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-08


Pollinator decline is one of the gravest challenges facing the world today, and the overuse of pesticides may be among its causes. Here, we studied whether glyphosate, the world’s most widely used pesticide, affects the bumblebee gut microbiota. We exposed the bumblebee diet to glyphosate and a glyphosate-based herbicide and quantified the microbiota community shifts using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Furthermore, we estimated the potential sensitivity of bee gut microbes to glyphosate based on previously reported presence of target enzyme. Glyphosate increased, whereas the glyphosate-based herbicide decreased gut microbiota diversity, indicating that negative effects are attributable to co-formulants. Both glyphosate and the glyphosate-based herbicide treatments significantly decreased the relative abundance of potentially glyphosate-sensitive bacterial species Snodgrasella alvi. However, the relative abundance of potentially glyphosate-sensitive Candidatus Schmidhempelia genera increased in bumblebees treated with glyphosate. Overall, 50% of the bacterial genera detected in the bee gut microbiota were classified as potentially resistant to glyphosate, while 36% were classified as sensitive. Healthy core microbiota have been shown to protect bees from parasite infections, change metabolism, and decrease mortality. Thus, the heavy use of glyphosate-based herbicides may have implications on bees and ecosystems.

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Series: FEMS microbiology ecology
ISSN: 0168-6496
ISSN-E: 1574-6941
ISSN-L: 0168-6496
Volume: 99
Issue: 7
Article number: fiad065
DOI: 10.1093/femsec/fiad065
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland [grant number 311 077 to M.H. and 326 226 to K.S.]; Alhopuro Foundation to B.F.; and the Finnish Cultural Foundation to M.H.
Dataset Reference: The DNA sequence data generated and analysed for this study can be found in the Sequence Read Archive under the BioProject ID PRJNA916876;
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of FEMS. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact