Distribution of infectious and parasitic agents among three sentinel bee species across European agricultural landscapes


Infectious and parasitic agents (IPAs) and their associated diseases are major environmental stressors that jeopardize bee health, both alone and in interaction with other stressors. Their impact on pollinator communities can be assessed by studying multiple sentinel bee species. Here, we analysed the field exposure of three sentinel managed bee species (Apis mellifera, Bombus terrestris and Osmia bicornis) to 11 IPAs (six RNA viruses, two bacteria, three microsporidia). The sentinel bees were deployed at 128 sites in eight European countries adjacent to either oilseed rape fields or apple orchards during crop bloom. Adult bees of each species were sampled before their placement and after crop bloom. The IPAs were detected and quantified using a harmonised, high-throughput and semi-automatized qPCR workflow. We describe differences among bee species in IPA profiles (richness, diversity, detection frequencies, loads and their change upon field exposure, and exposure risk), with no clear patterns related to the country or focal crop. Our results suggest that the most frequent IPAs in adult bees are more appropriate for assessing the bees’ IPA exposure risk. We also report positive correlations of IPA loads supporting the potential IPA transmission among sentinels, suggesting careful consideration should be taken when introducing managed pollinators in ecologically sensitive environments.

Scientific Reports
Christophe Dominik
Christophe Dominik
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interests include landscape ecology, pollination ecology, biological control, gut microbiome, and agroecology.