Worse off together: consequences of microsporidian and virus co-infection for parasite dynamics and bumble bee host health
Honorable Mention, People's Choice
Bumble bees face constant threat of disease whenever they dine; floral landscapes are full of various parasites deposited by other visitors. As such, bumble bees can be exposed to multiple parasites. My research focuses on how bumble bees respond when co-infected with two important parasites: a microsporidian parasite thought to cause bumble bee declines in the US and a virus that bumble bees catch from honeybees. I investigate how the coinfection influences bee health, including how infected they become and their survival, and how coinfection may affect how the parasites are passed on. I have found that the virus has a strong effect, resulting in decreased survival in both virus-only and coinfected bees. This demonstrates the importance of understanding how the mix of parasites that bees pick up as they go from flower to flower may have important consequences for their health and the ecosystem services they provide.
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