Comprehensive Bee Pathogen Screening in Belgium Reveals Crithidia mellificae as a New Contributory Factor to Winter Mortality
Ravoet, Jorgen × Maharramov, Jafar Meeus, Ivan De Smet, Lina Wenseleers, Tom Smagghe, Guy de Graaf, Dirk C #
Public Library of Sciene
PLoS One vol:8 issue:8 pages:e72443
Since the last decade, unusually high honey bee colony losses have been reported mainly in North-America and Europe. Here, we report on a comprehensive bee pathogen screening in Belgium covering 363 bee colonies that were screened for 18 known disease-causing pathogens and correlate their incidence in summer with subsequent winter mortality. Our analyses demonstrate that, in addition to Varroa destructor, the presence of the trypanosomatid parasite Crithidia mellificae and the microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae in summer are also predictive markers of winter mortality, with a negative synergy being observed between the two in terms of their effects on colony mortality. Furthermore, we document the first occurrence of a parasitizing phorid fly in Europe, identify a new fourth strain of Lake Sinai Virus (LSV), and confirm the presence of other little reported pathogens such as Apicystis bombi, Aphid Lethal Paralysis Virus (ALPV), Spiroplasma apis, Spiroplasma melliferum and Varroa destructor Macula-like Virus (VdMLV). Finally, we provide evidence that ALPV and VdMLV replicate in honey bees and show that viruses of the LSV complex and Black Queen Cell Virus tend to non-randomly co-occur together. We also noticed a significant correlation between the number of pathogen species and colony losses. Overall, our results contribute significantly to our understanding of honey bee diseases and the likely causes of their current decline in Europe.