The distribution of Aspergillus spp. opportunistic parasites in hives and their pathogenicity to honey bees

Foley, Kirsten, Fazio, Géraldine, Jensen, Annette B and Hughes, William O H (2014) The distribution of Aspergillus spp. opportunistic parasites in hives and their pathogenicity to honey bees. Veterinary Microbiology, 169 (3-4). pp. 203-210. ISSN 0378-1135

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Stonebrood is a disease of honey bee larvae caused by fungi from the genus Aspergillus. As very few studies have focused on the epidemiological aspects of stonebrood and diseased brood may be rapidly discarded by worker bees, it is possible that a high number of cases go undetected. Aspergillus spp. fungi are ubiquitous and associated with disease in many insects, plants, animals and man. They are regarded as opportunistic pathogens that require immunocompromised hosts to establish infection. Microbiological studies have shown high prevalences of Aspergillus spp. in apiaries which occur saprophytically on hive substrates. However, the specific conditions required for pathogenicity to develop remain unknown. In this study, an apiary was screened to determine the prevalence and diversity of Aspergillus spp. fungi. A series of dose–response tests were then conducted using laboratory reared larvae to determine the pathogenicity and virulence of frequently occurring isolates. The susceptibility of adult worker bees to Aspergillus flavus was also tested. Three isolates (A. flavus, Aspergillus nomius and Aspergillus phoenicis) of the ten species identified were pathogenic to honey bee larvae. Moreover, adult honey bees were also confirmed to be highly susceptible to A. flavus infection when they ingested conidia. Neither of the two Aspergillus fumigatus strains used in dose–response tests induced mortality in larvae and were the least pathogenic of the isolates tested. These results confirm the ubiquity of Aspergillus spp. in the apiary environment and highlight their potential to infect both larvae and adult bees.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0301 Biology
Depositing User: Catrina Hey
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2014 15:26
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 22:07

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Host parasite genetic diversityG1019NERC-NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCILRG.IICB.475604 - NE/G006849/2