Biosecurity implications associated with survival of fungal spores through the gut of honey bee workers
Jorgiane Benevenute Parish, Jorgiane Benevenute Parish , Eileen Sandra Scott , Katja Hogendoorn
The University of Adelaide, Australia; Plant Protection Group, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide-SA, Australia ; Plant Protection Group, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide -SA, Australia ; Plant Protection Group, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide -SA, Australia
Honey bees, Apis mellifera, have been implicated as vectors of plant pathogens. During foraging, workers may collect spores of plant pathogenic fungi associated with pollen and nectar and transfer them to the hive or to other flowers. If the spores of phytopathogenic fungi remain viable after passing through the digestive tract of the bees, transport of hives could give rise to biosecurity concerns. This study investigated whether spores of the plant pathogenic fungi Botrytis cinerea and Collectotrichum acutatum survive through the digestive tract of honey bee workers. Experiments were conducted with newly emerged workers originating from three hives. Workers were fed known amounts of sucrose solution with or without spores for three days. On the third day, bees were surface-disinfected and their faeces was collected by placing individual bees over a tube and applying pressure to the bee’s abdomen. Aliquots of the faecal suspensions were plated and colony forming units were quantified. Representative colonies were purified and the ITS region sequenced to ascertain that the colonies were derived from the spores that had been fed to the workers. The implications for biosecurity associated with the transport of hives, and potential strategies to reduce the spread of fungal crop diseases will be discussed.