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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384484

Research Project: Managing Honey Bees Against Disease and Colony Stress

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Title: Honey bee habitat sharing enhances gene flow of the parasite Nosema ceranae

item LI, KE - Jiangxi Agricultural University
item MCMAHON, DINO - Jiangxi Agricultural University
item ZHANG, LI - Jiangxi Agricultural University
item ZENG, ZHI - Jiangxi Agricultural University
item Evans, Jay
item HUANG, QIANG - Jiangxi Agricultural University

Submitted to: Microbial Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/19/2021
Publication Date: 8/3/2021
Citation: Li, K., Mcmahon, D., Zhang, L.Z., Zeng, Z.J., Evans, J.D., Huang, Q. 2021. Honey bee habitat sharing enhances gene flow of the parasite Nosema ceranae. Microbial Ecology. 83:1105-1111.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bee species can share important parasites and pathogens. The gut parasite Nosema ceranae is believed to have arrived in the western honey bee, Apis mellifera, from the species Apis cerana. This study uses genetic markers to measure the diversity of populations where these species live together and populations where they are apart. The results can be used to help reduce the spread of parasites and better understand the genetic impacts of parasite movement. The longterm benefit will be increased biosecurity for an important pollinator.

Technical Abstract: Host-parasite co-evolution is a process of reciprocal, adaptive genetic change. In natural conditions, parasites can shift to other host species, given both host and parasite genotypes allow this. Even though host-parasite co-evolution has been extensively studied both theoretically and empirically, few studies have focused on parasite gene flow between native and novel hosts. Nosema ceranae is a native parasite of the Asian honey bee Apis cerana, which infects epithelial cells of mid-guts. This parasite successfully switched to the European honey bee Apis mellifera, where higher virulence has been reported. In this study, we used the parasite N. ceranae and both honey bee species as model organisms to study the impacts of two-host habitat sharing on parasite diversity and virulence. SNVs (Single Nucleotide Variations) were identified from parasites isolated from native and novel hosts from sympatric populations, as well as novel hosts from a parapatric population. Parasites isolated from native hosts showed the highest levels of polymorphism. By comparing the parasites isolated from novel hosts between sympatric and parapatric populations, habitat sharing with the native host significantly enhanced parasite diversity, suggesting there is continuing gene flow of parasites between the two host species in sympatric populations.