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Probability of cross infections of Microsporidia among selected Bombus spp

Cross infectivity of Nosema bombi, induced by a one time application of 5 µl nosema spores suspension from Bombus species other than B. terrestris to worker brood of B. terrestris was tested. Using spores from Bombus pascuorum (500 and 250 000 per larva), spores from Bombus lapidarius (3 000 spores per larva) and spores from Bombus hypnorum (500 000 per larvae) did not induce a nosema infection in Bombus terrestris.

Comparable amounts of nosema spores from B. terrestris could induce a nosema infection in worker brood on B. terrestris in a one-time application. This indicates that a one time administration of nosema spores in sugar solution, from species other than B. terrestris directly to the larvae does not induce a nosema infection in B. terrestris workers, whereas comparable amounts of nosema spores from B. terrestris do induce a nosema infection in B. terrestris workers.

The results suggest that although it is the same parasite species that infects several species of bumble bees, cross infectivity between host species may required prolonged exposure or different exposure systems. The difficulty in establishing cross infection may also reflect locally adapted parasite strains. Although further work is needed to finally resolve the issue of cross infectivity, the project results to date will be published in scientific media. The results from these experiments adds to our understanding of parasite adaption in the host complex, but are of no immediate benefit for the bumble bee breeding industry.

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