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Nosema ceranae: A sweet surprise? Investigating the viability and infectivity of N. ceranae spores

MacInnis CI, Keddie BA, Pernal SF (2017) Nosema ceranae: A sweet surprise? Investigating the viability and infectivity of N. ceranae spores. American Bee Research Conference, 12-13 Jan 2017, Galveston, TX. Bee World 93(4): 114.

Abstract

Nosema disease is a prominent malady among adult honey bees (Apis mellifera L.), caused by the microsporidian parasites Nosema apis and N. ceranae. The biology of N. apis is well understood, as this parasite was first identified over a century ago. Unlike N. apis, N. ceranae is an emerging parasite of the honey bee, and consequently we do not yet understand how long spores of this parasite survive in honey bee colonies, or how they are transmitted among bees. We have investigated the viability and infectivity of the infectious (spore) stage of N. ceranae in substrates associated with honey bee colonies after exposure to 20, 33, -12, and -20°C, over various time intervals. Spores stored in honey and sugar syrup survived freezing temperatures for up to one year, considerably longer than those stored in water or on wax comb. Honey and sugar syrup appear to provide a reservoir of viable and infective spores that can initiate or perpetuate N. ceranae infections within and between honey bee colonies. These results may help guide current management recommendations to minimize the spread of N. ceranae infections.

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