Disease associations between honeybees and bumblebees as a threat to wild pollinators Journal Article

Author(s): Fürst, Matthias A; McMahon, Dino P; Osborne, Juliet L; Paxton, Robert J; Brown, Mark J
Article Title: Disease associations between honeybees and bumblebees as a threat to wild pollinators
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) pose a risk to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, by affecting managed livestock and wildlife that provide valuable resources and ecosystem services, such as the pollination of crops. Honeybees (Apis mellifera), the prevailing managed insect crop pollinator, suffer from a range of emerging and exotic high-impact pathogens, and population maintenance requires active management by beekeepers to control them. Wild pollinators such as bumblebees (Bombus spp.) are in global decline, one cause of which may be pathogen spillover from managed pollinators like honeybees or commercial colonies of bumblebees. Here we use a combination of infection experiments and landscape-scale field data to show that honeybee EIDs are indeed widespread infectious agents within the pollinator assemblage. The prevalence of deformed wing virus (DWV) and the exotic parasite Nosema ceranae in honeybees and bumblebees is linked; as honeybees have higher DWV prevalence, and sympatric bumblebees and honeybees are infected by the same DWV strains, Apis is the likely source of at least one major EID in wild pollinators. Lessons learned from vertebrates highlight the need for increased pathogen control in managed bee species to maintain wild pollinators, as declines in native pollinators may be caused by interspecies pathogen transmission originating from managed pollinators.
Journal Title: Nature
Volume: 506
Issue 7488
ISSN: 0028-0836
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group  
Date Published: 2014-02-20
Start Page: 364
End Page: 366
DOI: 10.1038/nature12977
Notes: The study was supported by the Insect Pollinators Initiative (funded jointly by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Natural Environment Research Council, The Scottish Government and The Wellcome Trust, under the Living with Environmental Change Partnership: grants BB/I000151/1 (M.J.F.B.), BB/I000100/1 (R.J.P.) and BB/I000097/1 (J.L.O.).
Open access: yes (repository)