Skip to main content


Symbiosis of Carpenter Bees with Uncharacterized Lactic Acid Bacteria Showing NAD Auxotrophy

Eusocial bees (such as honey bees and bumble bees) harbor core gut microbiomes that are transmitted through social interaction between nestmates. Carpenter bees are not eusocial; however, recent microbiome analyses found that Xylocopa species harbor distinctive core gut microbiomes. In this study, we analyzed the gut microbiomes of three Xylocopa species in Japan between 2016 and 2021 by V1 to V2 region-based 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing, and 14 candidate novel species were detected based on the full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences. All Xylocopa species harbor core gut microbiomes consisting of primarily lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that were phylogenetically distant from known species. Although they were difficult to cultivate, two LAB species from two different Xylocopa species were isolated by supplementing bacterial culture supernatants. Both genomes exhibited an average LAB genome size with a large set of genes for carbohydrate utilization but lacked genes to synthesize an essential coenzyme NAD, which is unique among known insect symbionts. Our findings of phylogenetically distinct core LAB of NAD auxotrophy reflected the evolution of Xylocopa-restricted bacteria retention and maintenance through vertical transmission of microbes during solitary life. We propose five candidate novel species belonging to the families Lactobacillaceae and Bifidobacteriaceae, including a novel genus, and their potential functions in carbohydrate utilization.