Nosema Tolerant Honeybees (Apis mellifera) Escape Parasitic Manipulation of Apoptosis

Apoptosis is not only pivotal for development, but also for pathogen defence in multicellular organisms. Although numerous intracellular pathogens are known to interfere with the host’s apoptotic machinery to overcome this defence, its importance for host-parasite coevolution has been neglected. We conducted three inoculation experiments to investigate in the apoptotic respond during infection with the intracellular gut pathogen Nosema ceranae, which is considered as potential global threat to the honeybee (Apis mellifera) and other bee pollinators, in sensitive and tolerant honeybees. To explore apoptotic processes in the gut epithelium, we visualised apoptotic cells using TUNEL assays and measured the relative expression levels of subset of candidate genes involved in the apoptotic machinery using qPCR. Our results suggest that Nceranae reduces apoptosis in sensitive honeybees by enhancing inhibitor of apoptosis protein-(iap)-2 gene transcription. Interestingly, this seems not be the case in Nosema tolerant honeybees. We propose that these tolerant honeybees are able to escape the manipulation of apoptosis by Nceranae, which may have evolved a mechanism to regulate an anti-apoptotic gene as key adaptation for improved host invasion.


Kurze C, Le Conte Y, Dussaubat C, Erler S, Kryger P, Lewkowski O, et al. (2015) Nosema Tolerant Honeybees (Apis mellifera) Escape Parasitic Manipulation of Apoptosis. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0140174. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140174
Supported by

Ricola Foundation


University of Bern

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