This project proposes the chemical study of the ecological relationship between microorganisms and the stingless bee Scaptotrigona depilis. Studies in the literature show that understanding relationships of parasitism and mutualism involving the microbial community associated with insects can provide natural products with novel chemical structures and pharmacological potential, particularly with respect to antimicrobial activity. There are no published studies involving chemical ecology of microorganisms associated with S. depilis. In this this project, samples of adults, larvae and beehives of S. depilis will be collected at the Department of Biology, School of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of Ribeirão Preto, USP. The microorganisms will be isolated in the Laboratory of Chemistry of Microorganisms, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto and identified by sequencing of ribosomal DNA. Inhibition assays will be performed through pairwise interactions in Petri dishes in the presence of entomopathogenic microorganisms and human pathogens. In order to stimulate the production of active metabolites, the mixed culture approach will be used with microorganisms selected in the antagonism assays in Petri dishes. The chemical profiles of the extracts obtained from microbial cultures will be compared with those from adult bees, larvae and beehive attempting to understand the chemistry involved in the ecology system. The major products will be isolated by chromatograpic methods, identified by spectroscopic and spectrometric techniques, and submitted to antimicrobial assays to determine the minimum inhibitory concentration against pathogens of both insects and humans.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: