Dr Matthias A. Fürst

Research interests

B. terrestris (Photo: Matthias Fürst)


My main interests are in the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions and the conservation implications these interactions might have.

Funded by an IPI (Insect Pollinators Initiative) grant I am working on the

Impact and mitigation of emergent diseases on major UK insect pollinators

(for further information please go to: https://wiki.ceh.ac.uk/display/ukipi/Home)

Recent collapses of honey bee colonies have made the headlines all over the world, raising the awareness of people to the problems these important crop pollinators are facing. Among a plethora of factors implicated in the collapse of honeybee hives, newly emergent pathogens/parasites rank really high. Two of the potential main players, Nosema ceranae (a microsporidian) and deformed wing virus (DWV)( a RNA-virus), have recently been detected in bumble bees, the other major crop pollinator. While research on these two emergent diseases in honey bees is well on its way, hardly anything is known about how they infect and affect bumble bees.

My aim in this project is to assess the susceptibility of bumblebees to the emergent diseases N.ceranae and DWV by employing a range of infection assays, microscopy techniques, and molecular techniques. Once the infection routes are clear I will determine the impacts of single-species and mixed-species infections on different bumble bee species looking at parasite growth rates, host immune activity and host survival.

As a part of the project I will survey bees (honey bees and bumble bees) across the UK to get data on the prevalence of these parasites in the bee population.

All the data collected will feed into an epidemiological model developed by one of our collaborators, which will help to better understand the dynamics of multiple hosts in large social insect societies, our pollinators.



B. terrestris having a little drink (Photo: Matthias Fürst)

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