Honeybee as a model organism


The social honeybee (genus Apis) has particular advantages as a model organism to study the host-gut microbiota interactions:


  • It harbors a simple and specialized microbiota, dominated by only eight species.

  • Core bacteria can be cultured and genetically engineered.

  • Microbiota-free animals can be established in the lab.



Honeybee is the only model organism showing eusocial organization as human being. I am interested to use bee gut as a system for addressing widely ranging topics, from host-microbe interaction, gut microbial evolution, to bacteria and gene transmission through social contact.

Apis cerana gut microbiota


Apis cerana, the Asian honeybee, is an important honey-producing and pollinating species in China. A. cerana has been locally domesticated all through China, the comparison of gut microbiota of bees isolated geographically will illustrate the evolution in a fine scale.


Moreover, the native A. cerana is more resistant to invasion by pests or other individuals. I am trying to illustrate the different microbiota structures between the two host species, which will help us to understand the roles of gut bacteria in protecting against parasites and pathogens.