News Release

Effect of glyphosate on honey bee gut

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A Honey Bee.

image: This is a honey bee. view more 

Credit: Image courtesy of Vivian Abagiu (The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas).

The herbicide glyphosate disrupts bee gut microbiota, increasing the bees' susceptibility to pathogens, a study suggests. Glyphosate is used worldwide and targets an enzyme found only in plants and microorganisms. However, animals that rely on gut microbiota for health, such as pollinator honey bees, may be susceptible to adverse health effects arising from glyphosate exposure. Nancy A. Moran, Erick Motta, and colleagues exposed honey bees to glyphosate and observed that the herbicide reduced abundances of some of the eight dominant gut microbiota species in the exposed bees. Further, bees with impaired gut microbiomes were more likely to die when exposed to an opportunistic pathogen than bees with healthy gut microbe populations. Genetic analysis of the bee gut bacteria revealed that some species contained a glyphosate-sensitive enzyme and others contained a glyphosate-insensitive version of the same enzyme. The dominant gut bacterial species, Snodgrassella alvi, was largely glyphosate-sensitive, with some strains producing glyphosate resistance. According to the authors, glyphosate affects the honey bee gut microbiome, which may contribute to the largely unexplained increase in honey bee colony mortality.


Article #18-03880: "Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees," by Erick Motta, Kasie Raymann, and Nancy A. Moran.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nancy A. Moran, University of Texas at Austin, TX; tel: 512-232-5701; e-mail:; Erick Motta, University of Texas at Austin, TX; tel: 512-232-9419; e-mail:

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