So near and yet so far: harmonic radar reveals reduced homing ability of Nosema infected honeybees

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Wolf, S., McMahon, D. P., Lim, K. S., Pull, C. D., Clark, S. J., Paxton, R. J. and Osborne, J. L. 2014. So near and yet so far: harmonic radar reveals reduced homing ability of Nosema infected honeybees. PLOS ONE. 9, p. e103989.

AuthorsWolf, S., McMahon, D. P., Lim, K. S., Pull, C. D., Clark, S. J., Paxton, R. J. and Osborne, J. L.
Abstract

Pathogens may gain a fitness advantage through manipulation of the behaviour of their hosts. Likewise, host behavioural changes can be a defence mechanism, counteracting the impact of pathogens on host fitness. We apply harmonic radar technology to characterize the impact of an emerging pathogen - Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) - on honeybee (Apis mellifera) flight and orientation performance in the field. Honeybees are the most important commercial pollinators. Emerging diseases have been proposed to play a prominent role in colony decline, partly through sub-lethal behavioural manipulation of their hosts. We found that homing success was significantly reduced in diseased (65.8%) versus healthy foragers (92.5%). Although lost bees had significantly reduced continuous flight times and prolonged resting times, other flight characteristics and navigational abilities showed no significant difference between infected and non-infected bees. Our results suggest that infected bees express normal flight characteristics but are constrained in their homing ability, potentially compromising the colony by reducing its resource inputs, but also counteracting the intra-colony spread of infection. We provide the first high-resolution analysis of sub-lethal effects of an emerging disease on insect flight behaviour. The potential causes and the implications for both host and parasite are discussed.

Year of Publication2014
JournalPLOS ONE
Journal citation9, p. e103989
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103989
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderDepartment of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Wellcome Trust
Scottish Government
Funder project or codeDelivering Sustainable Systems (SS) [ISPG]
The improved understanding of the causes distribution and scale of acute oak decline in the UK: incidence distribution and severity
Impact and mitigation of emergent diseases on major UK insect pollinators [2011-2014]
Statistics Department (Rothamsted)
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online06 Aug 2014
Publication process dates
Accepted04 Jul 2014
Copyright licenseCC BY
PublisherPublic Library of Science (PLOS)
ISSN1932-6203

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