Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The weaker sex: Male honey bees are more susceptible than females to a widespread parasite

20.01.2014
Gender differences in nature are common, including in humans.

A research team from Bern, Switzerland has found that male European honey bees, or drones, are much more susceptible than female European honey bees, known as workers, to a fungal intestinal parasite called Nosema ceranae.


Female workers and male drone (larger body, big eyes). Geoffrey Williams, University of Bern

Originally from Asia, Nosema ceranae has rapidly spread throughout the world in recent years, and may contribute to the high number of colony deaths now observed in many regions of the northern hemisphere. These findings demonstrate the delicate nature of male honey bees, which are important to honey bee colony reproduction, to a well-distributed parasite.

Honey bees are complex social organisms that demonstrate haploid-diploidy. The two female castes, workers and queens, are diploid like humans. They contain two copies of each chromosome. Male honey bees, known as drones, on the other hand are haploid and contain only one chromosome set. The haploid susceptibility hypothesis predicts that haploid males are more prone to disease compared to their diploid female counterparts because dominant genes on one chromosome copy have the op-portunity to mask mutated genes on the other copy in diploid organisms.

A research team from the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Bern recently demonstrated in an article in the open-access journal PLOS ONE that male honey bees are significantly more susceptible (they die sooner and have poor body condition) to an exotic fungal intestinal parasite called Nosema ceranae compared to female worker honey bees. The parasite, originally from Asia, has recently spread to possess a near global-distribution during a period of high honey bee colony losses in many global regions. Because of its recent detection in honey bees outside of Asia, researchers are scram-bling to understand the parasite.

Male honey bees: lazy, but important

The observation that male drone honey bees die much sooner and have a poorer body condition compared to female worker honey bees when infected with the parasite Nosema ceranae is particular-ly worrisome, say’s doctoral student Gina Tanner: ‘Although drones do not perform important colony maintenance functions like cleaning and feeding like the workers, they are responsible for mating with queens so that the next generation of honey bees can be produced within a colony. Without strong, fit drones, the chance of successful matings with queens could be severely compromised.’ Recent stud-ies, mainly coming out of the United States, suggest that queen failure is a major cause of colony death. Early death of queens could be the result of queens not obtaining sufficient quantity and quality of sperm from drones during mating.

Honey and pollination

Honey bees, as all insect pollinators, provide crucial ecosystem and economic service which is rele-vant for our food security. Annually in Europe, more than 24 million honey bee colonies contribute to the production of 130,000 tons of honey and to the pollination of a range of agricultural crops – from carrots to almonds to oilseed rape – that is valued at €4 billion.

The study originated from the EU FP7 funded research consortium BEE DOC (Bees in Europe and the Decline of Honeybee colonies), and was performed by researchers affiliated to the Institute of Bee Health (University of Bern), the Swiss Bee Research Centre (Agroscope Swiss Confederation), and the Department of Ecology (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences).

Article:
Gina Retschnig, Geoffrey R. Williams, Marion M. Mehmann, Orlando Yañez,
Joachim R. de Miranda, Peter Neumann. 2014. Sex-specific Differences in Pathogen Susceptibility in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera). PLOS ONE.

Available at: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0085261

Nathalie Matter | idw
Further information:
http://www.unibe.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>