Swiss Bee Research Center

Bern, Switzerland

Swiss Bee Research Center

Bern, Switzerland
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Sandrock C.,University of Zürich | Sandrock C.,Swiss Bee Research Center | Vorburger C.,ETH Zurich | Vorburger C.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
Current Biology | Year: 2011

The evolutionary maintenance of sex is one of the big unresolved puzzles in biology [1]. All else being equal, all-female asexual populations should enjoy a two-fold reproductive advantage over sexual relatives consisting of male and female individuals [1]. However, the "all else being equal" assumption rarely holds in real organisms because asexuality tends to be confounded with altered genomic constitutions such as hybridization [2] and polyploidization [3] or to be associated with parthenogenesis-inducing microbes [4, 5]. This limits the ability to draw general conclusions from any particular system. Here we describe a new system that permits unbiased comparisons of sexual and asexual reproduction: the parasitic wasp Lysiphlebus fabarum. Crossing experiments demonstrated that asexual reproduction has a simple genetic basis in this species and is consistently inherited as a single-locus recessive trait. We further show that the asexuality-inducing allele exhibits complete linkage to a specific allele at a microsatellite marker: all asexual lines in the field were homozygous for this allele, and the allele cosegregated perfectly with asexual reproduction in our experimental crossings. This novel system of contagious asexuality allows the production of closely related individuals with different reproductive modes, as well as the monitoring of the asexuality-inducing allele in natural and experimental populations. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Sandrock C.,University of Zürich | Sandrock C.,Swiss Bee Research Center | Schirrmeister B.E.,University of Zürich | Vorburger C.,ETH Zurich | Vorburger C.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
BMC Evolutionary Biology | Year: 2011

Background: The Lysiphlebus fabarum group is a taxonomically poorly resolved complex of aphid parasitoids, presently split into three described species that comprise sexual (arrhenotokous) and asexual (thelytokous) lineages of unknown relationship. Specifically, it is unclear how asexuals evolved from sexuals in this system, to what extent reproductive modes are still connected by genetic exchange, how much the complex is structured by geography or by host-associated differentiation, and whether species designations are valid. Using a combination of population genetic and phylogenetic approaches, we addressed these issues in a comprehensive sample of parasitoid wasps from across Europe. Results: Asexual reproduction predominated in parasitoids of the L. fabarum group, with asexual populations exhibiting high genotypic diversity. Sexual populations were only common in southern France; elsewhere sexual reproduction was restricted to specific aphid hosts. Although reproductive modes were aggregated on the mitochondrial genealogy and significantly differentiated at nuclear microsatellite loci, there was clear evidence for genetic exchange, especially on hosts attacked by sexual and asexual parasitoids. The microsatellite data further revealed that parasitoids collected from certain host aphids were significantly differentiated, yet the mitochondrial sequence variation across the entire L. fabarum group did not exceed 1.32% and exhibited a very shallow topology. Morphological characters used for delineation of described species were found to be phylogenetically non-conservative. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the sexual-asexual L. fabarum group represents a young complex of lineages with incomplete isolation between reproductive modes. We propose three mechanisms of genetic exchange that may jointly explain the high genotypic diversity observed in asexual parasitoids: (i) the formation of new asexual lineages via 'contagious parthenogenesis', (ii) introgression from sexual lineages through matings between sexual males and thelytokous females, and (iii) 'cryptic sex' within asexuals, mediated by rare males that thelytokous lines are known to produce spontaneously. The partially strong differentiation among wasps collected from different aphids suggests that host specialization can evolve readily in these parasitoids. Finally, we conclude that in the light of our data, the current taxonomic division of the L. fabarum group into three species cannot be upheld. © 2011 Sandrock et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Sandrock C.,University of Zürich | Sandrock C.,Swiss Bee Research Center | Razmjou J.,University of Mohaghegh | Vorburger C.,ETH Zurich | Vorburger C.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2011

Aphid species may exhibit different reproductive modes ranging from cyclical to obligate parthenogenesis. The distribution of life cycle variation in aphids is generally determined by ecological forces, mainly climate, because only sexually produced diapausing eggs can survive harsh winters or periods of absence of suitable host plants. Aphids are thus interesting models to investigate intrinsic and environmental factors shaping the competition among sexual and asexual lineages. We conducted a Europe-wide sampling of black bean aphids, Aphis fabae, and combined population genetic analyses based on microsatellite data with an experimental determination of life cycle strategies. Aphids were collected from broad beans (Vicia faba) as well as some Chenopodiaceae, but we detected no genetic differentiation between aphids from different host plants. Consistent with model predictions, life cycle variation was related to climate, with aphids from areas with cold winters investing more in sexual reproduction than aphids from areas with mild winters. Accordingly, only populations from mild areas exhibited a clear genetic signature of clonal reproduction. These differences arise despite substantial gene flow over large distances, which was evident from a very low geographic population structure and a lack of isolation-by-distance among 18 sites across distances of more than 1000 km. There was virtually no genetic differentiation between aphids with different reproductive modes, suggesting that new asexual lineages are formed continuously. Indeed, a surprising number of A. fabae genotypes even from colder climates produced some parthenogenetic offspring under simulated winter conditions. From this we predict that a shift to predominantly asexual reproduction could take place rapidly under climate warming. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Moritz R.F.A.,Martin Luther University of Halle Wittenberg | De Miranda J.,Uppsala University | Fries I.,Uppsala University | Le Conte Y.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | And 2 more authors.
Apidologie | Year: 2010

Understanding the fundaments of colony losses and improving the status of colony health will require cross-cutting research initiatives including honeybee pathology, chemistry, genetics and apicultural extension. The 7th framework of the European Union requested research to empirically and experimentally fill knowledge gaps on honeybee pests and diseases, including 'Colony Collapse Disorder' and the impact of parasites, pathogens and pesticides on honeybee mortality. The interactions among these drivers of colony loss will be studied in different European regions, using experimental model systems including selected parasites (e.g. Nosema and Varroa mites), viruses (Deformed Wing Virus, Black Queen Cell Virus, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus) and model pesticides (thiacloprid, τ-fluvalinate). Transcriptome analyses will be used to explore host-pathogen-pesticide interactions and identify novel genes for disease resistance. Special attention will be given to sublethal and chronic exposure to pesticides and will screen how apicultural practices affect colony health. Novel diagnostic screening methods and sustainable concepts for disease prevention will be developed resulting in new treatments and selection tools for resistant stock. Research initiatives will be linked to various national and international ongoing European, North- and South-American colony health monitoring and research programs, to ensure a global transfer of results to apicultural practice in the world community of beekeepers. © 2010 INRA/DIB-AGIB/EDP Sciences.

Forsgren E.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Budge G.E.,UK Environment Agency | Charriere J.-D.,Swiss Bee Research Center | Hornitzky M.A.Z.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
Journal of Apicultural Research | Year: 2013

European foulbrood (EFB) is a severe bacterial honey bee brood disease caused by the Gram-positive bacterium Melissocccus plutonius. The disease is widely distributed worldwide, and is an increasing problem in some areas. Although the causative agent of EFB was described almost a century ago, many basic aspects of its pathogenesis are still unknown. Earlier studies were hampered by insensitive and unspecific methods such as culture based techniques. Recent advances in molecular technology are making it increasingly easy to detect and characterize microbes, and nucleic acid detection technologies are quickly displacing the traditional phenotypic assays in microbiology. This paper presents selected methodologies which focus on EFB and its causative agent M. plutonius. Copyright © IBRA 2013.

Sandrock C.,Swiss Bee Research Center | Tanadini M.,ETH Zurich | Tanadini L.G.,University of Zürich | Fauser-Misslin A.,Swiss Bee Research Center | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Background: Honeybees provide economically and ecologically vital pollination services to crops and wild plants. During the last decade elevated colony losses have been documented in Europe and North America. Despite growing consensus on the involvement of multiple causal factors, the underlying interactions impacting on honeybee health and colony failure are not fully resolved. Parasites and pathogens are among the main candidates, but sublethal exposure to widespread agricultural pesticides may also affect bees. Methodology/Principal Findings: To investigate effects of sublethal dietary neonicotinoid exposure on honeybee colony performance, a fully crossed experimental design was implemented using 24 colonies, including sister-queens from two different strains, and experimental in-hive pollen feeding with or without environmentally relevant concentrations of thiamethoxam and clothianidin. Honeybee colonies chronically exposed to both neonicotinoids over two brood cycles exhibited decreased performance in the short-term resulting in declining numbers of adult bees (-28%) and brood (-13%), as well as a reduction in honey production (-29%) and pollen collections (-19%), but colonies recovered in the medium-term and overwintered successfully. However, significantly decelerated growth of neonicotinoid-exposed colonies during the following spring was associated with queen failure, revealing previously undocumented long-term impacts of neonicotinoids: queen supersedure was observed for 60% of the neonicotinoid-exposed colonies within a one year period, but not for control colonies. Linked to this, neonicotinoid exposure was significantly associated with a reduced propensity to swarm during the next spring. Both short-term and long-term effects of neonicotinoids on colony performance were significantly influenced by the honeybees' genetic background. Conclusions/Significance: Sublethal neonicotinoid exposure did not provoke increased winter losses. Yet, significant detrimental short and long-term impacts on colony performance and queen fate suggest that neonicotinoids may contribute to colony weakening in a complex manner. Further, we highlight the importance of the genetic basis of neonicotinoid susceptibility in honeybees which can vary substantially. © 2014 Sandrock et al.

Sandrock C.,Swiss Bee Research Center | Tanadini L.G.,University of Zürich | Pettis J.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Biesmeijer J.C.,Netherlands Center for Biodiversity Naturalis | And 2 more authors.
Agricultural and Forest Entomology | Year: 2014

Pollinating insects provide crucial and economically important ecosystem services to crops and wild plants, but pollinators, particularly bees, are globally declining as a result of various driving factors, including the prevalent use of pesticides for crop protection. Sublethal pesticide exposure negatively impacts numerous pollinator life-history traits, but its influence on reproductive success remains largely unknown. Such information is pivotal, however, to our understanding of the long-term effects on population dynamics. We investigated the influence of field-realistic trace residues of the routinely used neonicotinoid insecticides thiamethoxam and clothianidin in nectar substitutes on the entire life-time fitness performance of the red mason bee Osmia bicornis. We show that chronic, dietary neonicotinoid exposure has severe detrimental effects on solitary bee reproductive output. Neonicotinoids did not affect adult bee mortality; however, monitoring of fully controlled experimental populations revealed that sublethal exposure resulted in almost 50% reduced total offspring production and a significantly male-biased offspring sex ratio. Our data add to the accumulating evidence indicating that sublethal neonicotinoid effects on non-Apis pollinators are expressed most strongly in a rather complex, fitness-related context. Consequently, to fully mitigate long-term impacts on pollinator population dynamics, present pesticide risk assessments need to be expanded to include whole life-cycle fitness estimates, as demonstrated in the present study using O. bicornis as a model. © 2013 The Royal Entomological Society.

Fauser-Misslin A.,University of Bern | Sadd B.M.,Illinois State University | Neumann P.,University of Bern | Sandrock C.,Swiss Bee Research Center
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2014

Summary: Pollinating insects provide vital ecosystem services of enormous importance for economies and biodiversity. Yet, there is a concerning global trend of pollinator declines. Parasites and pesticides are among the suspected principle drivers of these declines. However, especially in the case of key wild pollinators, there are insufficient data on the relative impact of these individual environmental stressors and whether they interact to increase detrimental effects. Using a fully crossed factorial design, we investigated how laboratory exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, over a 9-week period and a prevalent trypanosome gut parasite Crithidia bombi affects various crucial colony traits of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. We show that chronic dietary exposure from an early stage of colony development to doses of thiamethoxam and clothianidin that could be encountered in the field truncated worker production, reduced worker longevity and decreased overall colony reproductive success. Further, we demonstrate a significant interaction between neonicotinoid exposure and parasite infection on mother queen survival. The fate of the mother queen is intrinsically linked to colony success, and under combined pressure of parasite infection and neonicotinoid exposure, mother queen survival was lowest. This indicates increased detrimental effects of combined exposure on this crucial colony trait. Combined effects may be exacerbated in stressful natural environments where more pronounced parasite virulence is expected. Synthesis and applications. Our findings reiterate that dietary exposure to neonicotinoids can impact on bumblebee colony performance and fitness. The indication of combined negative effects of ecologically relevant pressures suggests additional adverse consequences for long-term population dynamics under complex field conditions. To help safeguard pollinator health, whole life-cycle fitness assessments, particularly for non-Apis bees, stringently incorporating chronic and sublethal side effects of pesticides, as well as interactions with common natural stressors, such as prevalent parasites, should be considered in the corresponding test guidelines. © 2013 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2013 British Ecological Society.

Hartmann U.,Swiss Bee Research Center | Forsgren E.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Charriere J.-D.,Swiss Bee Research Center | Neumann P.,Swiss Bee Research Center | And 2 more authors.
Viruses | Year: 2015

Apis mellifera filamentous virus (AmFV) is a large double stranded DNA virus of honey bees, but its relationship with other parasites and prevalence are poorly known. We analyzed individual honey bees from three colonies at different times post emergence in order to monitor the dynamics of the AmFV gut colonization under natural conditions.Prevalence and loads of microsporidia and trypanosomes were also recorded, as well as five common honey bee RNA viruses. The results show that a high proportion of bees get infected with AmFV during the first week post-emergence (75%) and that AmFV DNA levels remained constant. A similar pattern was observed for microsporidia while trypanosomes seem to require more time to colonize the gut. No significant associations between these three infections were found, but significant positive correlations were observed between AmFV and RNA viruses. In parallel, the prevalence of AmFV in France and Sweden was assessed from pooled honey bee workers. The data indicate that AmFV is almost ubiquitous, and does not seem to follow seasonal patterns, although higher viral loads were significantly detected in spring. A high prevalence of AmFV was also found in winter bees, without obvious impact on overwintering of the colonies. © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Bogdanov S.,Swiss Bee Research Center
Voprosy Pitaniia | Year: 2010

Due to its high carbohydrate content honey is an excellent energy source and possesses some functional effects. It is especially valuable for children and sportsmen. The glycemic index of honey varies from 32 to 91 depending on botanical origin. Honey contains also a great number of other constituents in small and trace amounts. This composition possesses numerous nutritional and biological effects: antimicrobial, antioxidant, prebiotic, immunomodulating activities. There is a suggestion on consumption rates.

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