Consequences of microsporidian prior exposure for virus infection outcomes and bumble bee host health

Elyse C. McCormick, Olivia R. Cohen, Adam G. Dolezal, Ben M. Sadd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Host–parasite interactions do not occur in a vacuum, but in connected multi-parasite networks that can result in co-exposures and coinfections of individual hosts. These can affect host health and disease ecology, including disease outbreaks. However, many host–parasite studies examine pairwise interactions, meaning we still lack a general understanding of the influence of co-exposures and coinfections. Using the bumble bee Bombus impatiens, we study the effects of larval exposure to a microsporidian Nosema bombi, implicated in bumble bee declines, and adult exposure to Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), an emerging infectious disease from honey bee parasite spillover. We hypothesize that infection outcomes will be modified by co-exposure or coinfection. Nosema bombi is a potentially severe, larval-infecting parasite, and we predict that prior exposure will result in decreased host resistance to adult IAPV infection. We predict double parasite exposure will also reduce host tolerance of infection, as measured by host survival. Although our larval Nosema exposure mostly did not result in viable infections, it partially reduced resistance to adult IAPV infection. Nosema exposure also negatively affected survival, potentially due to a cost of immunity in resisting the exposure. There was a significant negative effect of IAPV exposure on survivorship, but prior Nosema exposure did not alter this survival outcome, suggesting increased tolerance given the higher IAPV infections in the bees previously exposed to Nosema. These results again demonstrate that infection outcomes can be non-independent when multiple parasites are present, even when exposure to one parasite does not result in a substantial infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-335
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Bumble bee
  • Co-exposure
  • Coinfection
  • Host-parasite interactions
  • IAPV
  • Nosema bombi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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