Exposure to nectar-realistic sugar concentrations negatively impacts the ability of the trypanosome parasite (Crithidia bombi) to infect its bumblebee host

Arran J Folly, Marta Barton-Navarro, Mark J F Brown

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1) The ideal conditions for a parasite are typically found with its preferred host. However, prior to transmission to a naïve host and successful infection, a parasite may have to withstand extrinsic environmental conditions. Some parasites have adapted to time away from hosts, for example, by co-opting vectors or by having drought-resistant growth stages. However other parasites may have no obvious adaptations to persist during prolonged transmission cycles. Consequently, the environment may detrimentally impact parasite fitness and ultimately epidemiology.
2) Here we investigate the impact of nectar-realistic sugar concentrations on the ability of the trypanosome parasite Crithidia bombi, which may be transmitted between conspecifics at flowers, to infect its bumblebee host Bombus terrestris and to reproduce during the infection (parasitaemia). Our results show, following thirty minutes exposure to our experimental nectars, that as sugar concentration increases, infection prevalence and parasitaemia decrease. This is likely due to the increased osmotic stress C. bombi experiences in high sugar, aqueous environments.
3) Consequently, if C. bombi transmission is facilitated by nectar or a high sugar environment, it may have a negative impact on parasite fitness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1498
Number of pages4
Early online date15 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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