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Insects 2012, 3(4), 1143-1155; doi:10.3390/insects3041143

Individual Variability of Nosema ceranae Infections in Apis mellifera Colonies

1,* , 2
1 Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech, 324 Price Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA 2 Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (LISA), Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech, 405 Hutcheson Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 September 2012 / Revised: 15 October 2012 / Accepted: 25 October 2012 / Published: 1 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Honey Bee)
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Since 2006, beekeepers have reported increased losses of Apis mellifera colonies, and one factor that has been potentially implicated in these losses is the microsporidian Nosema ceranae. Since N. ceranae is a fairly recently discovered parasite, there is little knowledge of the variation in infection levels among individual workers within a colony. In this study we examined the levels of infection in individual bees from five colonies over three seasons using both spore counting and quantitative real-time PCR. The results show considerable intra-colony variation in infection intensity among individual workers with a higher percentage of low-level infections detected by PCR than by spore counting. Colonies generally had the highest percentage of infected bees in early summer (June) and the lowest levels in the fall (September). Nosema apis was detected in only 16/705 bees (2.3%) and always as a low-level co-infection with N. ceranae. The results also indicate that intra-colony variation in infection levels could influence the accuracy of Nosema diagnosis.
Keywords: Nosema ceranae; Nosema apis; Apis mellifera; real-time PCR; spore count; variability Nosema ceranae; Nosema apis; Apis mellifera; real-time PCR; spore count; variability
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Mulholland, G.E.; Traver, B.E.; Johnson, N.G.; Fell, R.D. Individual Variability of Nosema ceranae Infections in Apis mellifera Colonies. Insects 2012, 3, 1143-1155.

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