Pathogen spillover from Apis mellifera to a stingless bee

Purkiss, Terence, and Lach, Lori (2019) Pathogen spillover from Apis mellifera to a stingless bee. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 286. 20191071.

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Pathogen spillover from managed bees is increasingly considered as a possible cause of pollinator decline. Though spillover has been frequently documented, evidence of the pathogen’s virulence in the new host or mechanism of transmission is rare. Stingless bees (Apocrita: Meliponini) are crucial pollinators pan-tropically and overlap with managed honeybees (Apis mellifera) in much of their range. Nosema ceranae is the most prevalent disease of adult A. mellifera. We used laboratory experiments and field surveys to investigate the susceptibility of stingless bees (Tetragonula hockingsi) to N. ceranae, infection prevalence and transmissibility via flowers. We found that 67% of T. hockingsi fed sucrose with N. ceranae had detectable spores in their ventriculus, and they died at 2.96 times the rate of sucroseonly fed bees. Five of six field hives harboured bees with N. ceranae present at least once during our five-month survey, with prevalence up to 20%. In our floral transmission experiment, 67% of inflorescences exposed to infected A. mellifera yielded N. ceranae spores, and all resulted in T. hockingsi with N. ceranae spores in their guts. We conclude that N. ceranae is virulent in T. hockingsi under laboratory conditions, is common in the local T. hockingsi population and is transmissible via flowers.

Item ID: 59179
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0962-8452
Keywords: Apis mellifera; floral transmission; Nosema ceranae; pathogen spillover; pollinators; stingless bees
Copyright Information: © 2019 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Funders: Skyrail Rainforest Foundation, Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: WTMA grant no. 937, ARC DECRA Fellowship
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2019 03:38
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310913 Invertebrate biology @ 60%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3107 Microbiology > 310703 Microbial ecology @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410202 Biosecurity science and invasive species ecology @ 10%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960404 Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 70%
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