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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 May;76(9):3032-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03097-09. Epub 2010 Mar 12.

Five-year cohort study of Nosema spp. in Germany: does climate shape virulence and assertiveness of Nosema ceranae?

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  • 1Institute for Bee Research, Friedrich-Engels-Str. 32, Hohen Neuendorf, Germany.


Nosema ceranae and Nosema apis are two fungal pathogens belonging to the phylum Microsporidia and infecting the European honeybee, Apis mellifera. Recent studies have suggested that N. ceranae is more virulent than N. apis both at the individual insect level and at the colony level. Severe colony losses could be attributed to N. ceranae infections, and an unusual form of nosemosis is caused by this pathogen. In the present study, data from a 5-year cohort study of the prevalence of Nosema spp. in Germany, involving about 220 honeybee colonies and a total of 1,997 samples collected from these colonies each spring and autumn and analyzed via species-specific PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), are described. Statistical analysis of the data revealed no relation between colony mortality and detectable levels of infection with N. ceranae or N. apis. In addition, N. apis is still more prevalent than N. ceranae in the cohort of the German bee population that was analyzed. A possible explanation for these findings could be the marked decrease in spore germination that was observed after even a short exposure to low temperatures (+4 degrees C) for N. ceranae only. Reduced or inhibited N. ceranae spore germination at low temperatures should hamper the infectivity and spread of this pathogen in climatic regions characterized by a rather cold winter season.

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