Infectivity and virulence of Nosema ceranae and Nosema apis in commercially available North American honey bees

Wei Fone Huang, Leellen Solter, Katherine Aronstein, Zachary Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nosema ceranae infection is ubiquitous in western honey bees, Apis mellifera, in the United States and the pathogen has apparently replaced Nosema apis in colonies nationwide. Displacement of N. apis suggests that N. ceranae has competitive advantages but N. ceranae was significantly less infective and less virulent than N. apis in commercially available lineages of honey bees in studies conducted in Illinois and Texas. At 5days post eclosion, the most susceptible age of adult bees tested, the mean ID50 for N. apis was 359 spores compared to 3217 N. ceranae spores, a nearly 9-fold difference. Infectivity of N. ceranae was also lower than N. apis for 24-h and 14-day worker bees. N. ceranae was less infective than reported in studies using European strains of honey bees, while N. apis infectivity, tested in the same cohort of honey bees, corresponded to results reported globally from 1972 to 2010. Mortality of worker bees was similar for both pathogens at a dosage of 50 spores and was not different from the uninfected controls, but was significantly higher for N. apis than N. ceranae at dosages ≥500 spores. Our results provide comparisons for evaluating research using different ages of bees and pathogen dosages and clarify some controversies. In addition, comparisons among studies suggest that the mixed lineages of US honey bees may be less susceptible to N. ceranae infections than are European bees or that the US isolates of the pathogen are less infective and less virulent than European isolates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Infectivity
  • Nosema apis
  • Nosema ceranae
  • Virulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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