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Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 8;7(1):14988. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15358-w.

Protein nutrition governs within-host race of honey bee pathogens.

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Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt Freiburg (CVUA), Bienengesundheit, 79108, Freiburg i. Br., Germany.
Institute for Zoology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.
Institute of Plant Protection, The Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel.
Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Swiss Bee Research Centre, Agroscope, Bern, Switzerland.


Multiple infections are common in honey bees, Apis mellifera, but the possible role of nutrition in this regard is poorly understood. Microsporidian infections, which are promoted by protein-fed, can negatively correlate with virus infections, but the role of protein nutrition for the microsporidian-virus interface is unknown. Here, we challenged naturally deformed wing virus - B (DWV-B) infected adult honey bee workers fed with or without pollen ( = protein) in hoarding cages, with the microsporidian Nosema ceranae. Bee mortality was recorded for 14 days and N. ceranae spore loads and DWV-B titers were quantified. Amongst the groups inoculated with N. ceranae, more spores were counted in protein-fed bees. However, N. ceranae infected bees without protein-diet had reduced longevity compared to all other groups. N. ceranae infection had no effect on protein-fed bee's longevity, whereas bees supplied only with sugar-water showed reduced survival. Our data also support that protein-feeding can have a significant negative impact on virus infections in insects. The negative correlation between N. ceranae spore loads and DWV-B titers was stronger expressed in protein-fed hosts. Proteins not only enhance survival of infected hosts, but also significantly shape the microsporidian-virus interface, probably due to increased spore production and enhanced host immunity.

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