Pollinators mediate floral microbial diversity and microbial network under agrochemical disturbance


How pollinators mediate microbiome assembly in the anthosphere is a major unresolved question of theoretical and applied importance in the face of anthropogenic disturbance. We addressed this question by linking visitation of diverse pollinator functional groups (bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, beetles, true bugs and other taxa) to the key properties of the floral microbiome (microbial α- and β-diversity and microbial network) under agrochemical disturbance, using a field experiment of bactericide and fungicide treatments on cultivated strawberries that differ in flower abundance. Structural equation modelling was used to link agrochemical disturbance and flower abundance to pollinator visitation to floral microbiome properties. Our results revealed that (i) pollinator visitation influenced the α- and β-diversity and network centrality of the floral microbiome, with different pollinator functional groups affecting different microbiome properties; (ii) flower abundance influenced the floral microbiome both directly by governing the source pool of microbes and indirectly by enhancing pollinator visitation; and (iii) agrochemical disturbance affected the floral microbiome primarily directly by fungicide, and less so indirectly via pollinator visitation. These findings improve the mechanistic understanding of floral microbiome assembly, and may be generalizable to many other plants that are visited by diverse insect pollinators in natural and managed ecosystems.



Document Type





bacterial and fungal communities, bactericide and fungicide, floral microbiome, microbial network, pollinator visitation, strawberry

Publication Date


Journal Title

Molecular Ecology