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    The microsporidia Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae are major honey bee pathogens that possess different characteristics in terms of the signs they produce, as well as disease development and transmission. Although the ventricular epithelium is generally considered the target tissue, indirect observations led to speculation that N. ceranae may also target other structures, possibly explaining at least some of the differences between these 2 species. To investigate the tropism of Nosema for honey bee tissues, we performed controlled laboratory infections by orally administering doses of 50 000 or 100 000 fresh mature spores of either species. The fat body was isolated from the infected bees, as well as organs from the digestive (esophagus, ventriculus, ileum, rectum), excretory (Malpighian tubules), circulatory (aorta, heart), respiratory (thoracic tracheas), exocrine (hypopharyngeal, mandibular and labial, cephalic, thoracic salivary glands), and sensory/nervous (brain, eyes and associated nerve structures, thoracic nerve ganglia) systems. Tissues were examined by light and electron microscopy at 7, 10, and 15 days postinfection. Both Nosema species were found to infect epithelial cells and clusters of regenerative cells in the ventriculus, and while the ileum and rectum contained spores of the microsporidia in the lumen, these structures did not show overt lesions. No stages of the parasites or cellular lesions were detected in the other organs tested, confirming the high tropism of both species for the ventricular epithelium cells. Thus, these direct histopathological observations indicate that neither of these 2 Nosema species exhibit tropism for honey bee organs other than the ventriculus.


    Mariano Higes, Pilar García-Palencia, Almudena Urbieta, Antonio Nanetti, Raquel Martín-Hernández. Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae Tissue Tropism in Worker Honey Bees (Apis mellifera). Veterinary pathology. 2020 Jan;57(1):132-138

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    PMID: 31342871

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