Feb 28, 2020

Artificial diets modulate infection rates of Nosema ceranae in bumblebees

Tamara Gomez-MorachoMathieu Lihoreau


Parasites alter the physiology and behaviour of their hosts. In domestic honey bees, the microsporidia Nosema ceranae induces an energetic stress and impairs the behaviour of foragers, potentially leading to colony collapse. Whether this emerging parasite similarly affects wild pollinators is little understood because of the low success rates of experimental infection protocols. Here we established a new apporach for infecting bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) with controlled amounts of N. ceranae, by briefly exposing individual bumblebees to a sucrose solution containing parasite spores, before feeding them with artificial diets. We validated our protocol by testing the effect of two spore dosages and two diets varying in their protein to carbohydrate ratio, on the prevalence of the parasite (proportion of infected bees), the intensity of infection (spore count in the gut), and the survival of bumblebees. Insects fed a low-protein high-carbohydrate diet showed highest parasite prevalence (up to 70%) but lived longest, suggesting that immunity and survival of bumblebees are maximised at different protein to carbohydrate ratios. Spore dosage had no effect on parasite infection rate and host survival. The identification of experimen...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

High Carbohydrate Diet
Collapse (Finding)
Scaptotrigona postica
Physiological Aspects
Foraging protein, Drosophila
Parasitic Infection
Bombus terrestris

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