Honeybee probiotic combating glyphosate exposure

Macquarie University

  • Project code: PRO-017073

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Tuesday, January 31, 2023

  • Project completion date: Friday, June 14, 2024

  • National Priority: HBE-Increase capacity within research community and future industry leaders


Honeybees may be exposed to glyphosate, a commonly applied herbicide, during crop pollination. Although glyphosate was previously considered safe for honeybees, since it inhibits specific enzymes found only in plants and some bacteria, it can negatively affect honeybee abilities including learning, memory, and navigation which are important for colony wellbeing and pollination efficiency. While it is known that glyphosate has these negative effects, the proximate mechanisms of how glyphosate affects the abilities of honeybees are still unknown. Recently, it has been shown that glyphosate can perturb the gut microbiome of honeybees. The gut microbiome is directly linked to honeybee health, development, cognition, and behaviours. Glyphosate may therefore affect honeybee abilities indirectly by altering their gut microbiome. Thus, counteracting the effects of glyphosate on the gut microbiome may relieve the effects glyphosate has on honeybee abilities. This may be achieved by providing honeybees supplementary feeding enriched with probiotics containing the honeybee gut bacteria Snodgrassella alvi, which is most significantly reduced by glyphosate. To test this, honeybees will be exposed to glyphosate, then provided the probiotic, then have their will learning abilities assessed. This probiotic aims to help re-establish their gut microbiota and restore their learning abilities after glyphosate exposure. This project will advance the understanding of the effects and mechanisms of glyphosate and potentially develop knowledge of the benefits of probiotic supplementary feeding to combat effects of stress, such as  agrochemical exposure.


Honey Bee

Research Organisation

Macquarie University