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Type: Thesis
Title: Aspects of the interactions between honey bees (Apis mellifera) and propagules of plant pathogens
Author: Benevenute Parish, Jorgiane
Issue Date: 2019
School/Discipline: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
Abstract: The European honey bee, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), may actively or passively collect propagules of plant pathogens and transport them to the hive or to flowers, which can contribute to the spread of plant diseases either locally, within and among crops and native vegetation, or between regions due to migratory beekeeping practices. As honey bee workers defecate outside the hive, transport of hives could give rise to biosecurity concerns if fungal spores remain viable following passage through the digestive tract. To investigate the probability of this mode of transmission of fungal spores, the viability of spores of the plant pathogenic fungi Botrytis cinerea and Colletotrichum acutatum after they had passed through the digestive tract of newly emerged honey bee workers was studied. With a mean viability of spores of either fungus in faecal suspensions of less than one percent, survival of fungal spores in honey bee faeces was low. Nevertheless, it is a near certainty that foragers and nurse bees that feed on an infected food source will disperse viable spores through faeces in common pollination scenarios, where hundreds of hives are moved between locations. Thus, these findings have implications for biosecurity restrictions associated with the transport of hives to limit the introduction of plant pathogens to new areas. To explore possible effects of the intake of fungal spores on honey bee health, the effects of the consumption of spores of Botrytis cinerea, Cladosporium sp. and Colletotrichum acutatum on the survival and development of ovaries and hypopharyngeal glands in honey bee workers were investigated. Honey bees failed to consume diets comprising solely fungal spores nor did they consume diets consisting of pollen and fungal spores at the concentrations of 5:1 and 10:1 in vitro. However, mixtures of pollen with spores of any of the three fungi at the concentration of 20:1 increased the lifespan of workers compared to the sole pollen diets, but had no effect on the development of ovaries or hypopharyngeal glands. These findings suggest that the consumption of fungal spores may provide nutritional benefits for honey bees and may compensate for nutritional imbalances of poor-quality pollen diets. The potential role of honey bees in distributing plant pathogenic fungal spores and bacteria in the field was investigated by identifying the fungal and bacterial communities associated with honey bees’ corbicular pollen collected from almonds, weeds and native vegetation, in five commercial almond orchards. Next generation sequencing of the ITS regions and the 16S rRNA gene showed pollen species and locations differed with respect to the composition of fungal, but not for bacterial, communities. Pathogens of almonds and other plant species were detected in most pollen species, with a higher relative incidence at the end of almond bloom. These findings contribute to the understanding of the microbial ecology involving honey bees and plant species in almond orchards. Further characterisation of these associations may in future help to improve management of these plant pathogens in almond orchard environments. This research provides new information about the potential nutritional importance of spore collection and consumption by honey bees, the role of honey bees as vectors of plant pathogenic fungi, and fundamental insights into microbial ecological interactions between honey bee workers and plant species in almond orchards. These results have implications for the health of honey bees and the management of hives in agricultural and natural environments in terms of reducing the risk of transmission of plant pathogens among different crops and areas.
Advisor: Hogendoorn, Katja
Scott, Eileen S.
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, 2020
Keywords: Apis mellifera
plant pathogeniC fungi
Botrytis cinerea
Cladosporium sp.
Colletotrichum acutatum
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