Comparative development and tissue tropism of Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae

Wei Fone Huang, Leellen F Solter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The two etiological agents of nosema disease in honey bees, Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia: Nosematidae), reproduce in the midgut tissues of the host. N. apis is tissue specific but the development and tissue tropism of N. ceranae is not well understood. Our investigations compared development of the two phylogenetically related pathogens in all major host tissues. Using microscopy, PCR and qPCR quantification to evaluate tissue tropism of infected bees in communal cages and of individually restrained infected bees, we found no detectable spores in cephalic or other body tissues except midgut tissues. Nosema DNA was detected in Malpighian tubules but the tubules could not be separated from the alimentary tract without release of spores from the midgut. Nosema DNA was not detected in hemolymph sampled from the head capsule or the abdomen of infected bees. We confirmed that N. ceranae only develops in midgut tissues. Spores of both species released from host midgut cells accumulated in the hindgut lumen, and we noted differences in numbers and ratios of spore types and in growth curves between the two pathogens. N. apis reached a consistent level of spore production after 12 days post inoculation (dpi); N. ceranae spore production increased linearly from 12 to 20 dpi and the number of mature N. ceranae spores was consistently higher.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2013


  • Development
  • Glands
  • Honey bee
  • Nosema
  • Tissue tropism
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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