Virus Prevalence and Genetic Diversity Across a Wild Bumblebee Community


Pascall DJ, Tinsley MC, Clark BL, Obbard DJ & Wilfert L (2021) Virus Prevalence and Genetic Diversity Across a Wild Bumblebee Community. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12, Art. No.: 650747.

Viruses are key population regulators, but we have limited knowledge of the diversity and ecology of viruses. This is even the case in wild host populations that provide ecosystem services, where small fitness effects may have major ecological impacts in aggregate. One such group of hosts are the bumblebees, which have a major role in the pollination of food crops and have suffered population declines and range contractions in recent decades. In this study, we investigate the diversity of four recently discovered bumblebee viruses (Mayfield virus 1, Mayfield virus 2, River Liunaeg virus, and Loch Morlich virus), and two previously known viruses that infect both wild bumblebees and managed honeybees (Acute bee paralysis virus and Slow bee paralysis virus) from isolates in Scotland. We investigate the ecological and environmental factors that determine viral presence and absence. We show that the recently discovered bumblebee viruses were more genetically diverse than the viruses shared with honeybees. Coinfection is potentially important in shaping prevalence: we found a strong positive association between River Liunaeg virus and Loch Morlich virus presence after controlling for host species, location and other relevant ecological variables. We tested for a relationship between environmental variables (temperature, UV radiation, wind speed, and prevalence), but as we had few sampling sites, and thus low power for site-level analyses, we could not conclude anything regarding these variables. We also describe the relationship between the bumblebee communities at our sampling sites. This study represents a first step in the description of predictors of bumblebee infection in the wild.

virus community ecology; disease ecology; bumblebees (Bombus); virus diversity; pollinators; Wildlife epidemiology

Frontiers in Microbiology: Volume 12

FundersBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online30/04/2021
Date accepted by journal24/03/2021