The root extract of Rhodiola rosea has historically been used in Europe and Asia as an adaptogen, and similar to ginseng and Shisandra, shown to display numerous health benefits in humans, such as decreasing fatigue and anxiety while improving mood, memory, and stamina. A similar extract in the Rhodiola family, Rhodiola crenulata, has previously been shown to confer positive effects on the gut homeostasis of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Although, R. rosea has been shown to extend lifespan of many organisms such as fruit flies, worms and yeast, its anti-aging mechanism remains uncertain. Using D. melanogaster as our model system, the purpose of this work was to examine whether the anti-aging properties of R. rosea are due to its impact on the microbial composition of the fly gut.
Rhodiola rosea treatment significantly increased the abundance of Acetobacter, while subsequently decreasing the abundance of Lactobacillales of the fly gut at 10 and 40 days of age. Additionally, supplementation of the extract decreased the total culturable bacterial load of the fly gut, while increasing the overall quantifiable bacterial load. The extract did not display any antimicrobial activity when disk diffusion tests were performed on bacteria belonging to Microbacterium, Bacillus, and Lactococcus.
Under standard and conventional rearing conditions, supplementation of R. rosea significantly alters the microbial community of the fly gut, but without any general antibacterial activity. Further studies should investigate whether R. rosea impacts the gut immunity across multiple animal models and ages.