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Bee-fungus associations are common, and while most studies focus on entomopathogens, emerging evidence suggests that bees associate with a variety of symbiotic fungi that can influence bee behavior and health. Here, we review nonpathogenic fungal taxa associated with different bee species and bee-related habitats. We synthesize results of studies examining fungal effects on bee behavior, development, survival, and fitness. We find that fungal communities differ across habitats, with some groups restricted mostly to flowers (Metschnikowia), while others are present almost exclusively in stored provisions (Zygosaccharomyces). Starmerella yeasts are found in multiple habitats in association with many bee species. Bee species differ widely in the abundance and identity of fungi hosted. Functional studies suggest that yeasts affect bee foraging, development, and pathogen interactions, though few bee and fungal taxa have been examined in this context. Rarely, fungi are obligately beneficial symbionts of bees, whereas most are facultative bee associates with unknown or ecologically contextual effects. Fungicides can reduce fungal abundance and alter fungal communities associated with bees, potentially disrupting bee-fungi associations. We recommend that future study focus on fungi associated with non-honeybee species and examine multiple bee life stages to document fungal composition, abundance, and mechanistic effects on bees.
Rutkowski, D., Weston, M., & Vannette, R. L. (2023, August 1). Bees just wanna have fungi: A review of bee associations with nonpathogenic fungi. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiad077