Widespread dispersal of the microsporidian Nosema ceranae, an emergent pathogen of the western honey bee, Apis mellifera

J. Klee, Andrea Besana, E. Genersch, S. Gisder, A. Nanetti, D.Q. Tam, T.X. Chinh, F. Puerta, J.M. Ruz, P. Kryger, D. Message, F. Hatjina, S. Korpela, I. Fries, Robert Paxton

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463 Citations (Scopus)


The economically most important honey bee species, Apis mellifera, was formerly considered to be parasitized by one microsporidian, Nosema apis. Recently, [Higes, M., Martin, R., Meana, A., 2006. Nosema ceranae, a new microsporidian parasite in honeybees in Europe, J. Invertebr. Pathol. 92, 93-95] and [Huang, W.-F., Jiang, J.-H., Chen, Y.-W., Wang, C.-H., 2007. A Nosema ceranae isolate from the honeybee Apis mellifera. Apidologie 38, 30-37] used 16S (SSU) rRNA gene sequences to demonstrate the presence of Nosema ceranae in A. mellifera from Spain and Taiwan, respectively. We developed a rapid method to differentiate between N. apis and N. ceranae based on PCR-RFLPs of partial SSU rRNA. The reliability of the method was confirmed by sequencing 29 isolates from across the world (N = 9 isolates gave N. apis RFLPs and sequences, N = 20 isolates gave N. ceranae RFLPs and sequences; 100%, correct classification). We then employed the method to analyze N = 115 isolates from across the world. Our data, combined with N = 36 additional published sequences demonstrate that (i) N. ceranae most likely jumped host to A. mellifera, probably within the last decade, (ii) that host colonies and individuals may be co-infected by both microsporidia species, and that (iii) N. ceranae is now a parasite of A. mellifera across most of the world. The rapid, long-distance dispersal of N. ceranae is likely due to transport of infected honey bees by commercial or hobbyist beekeepers. We discuss the implications of this emergent pathogen for worldwide beekeeping. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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