Skip header navigation

University of Stirling

×

Article

Genetic diversity, parasite prevalence and immunity in wild bumblebees

Citation
Whitehorn PR, Tinsley MC, Brown MJF, Darvill B & Goulson D (2011) Genetic diversity, parasite prevalence and immunity in wild bumblebees. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278 (1709), pp. 1195-1202. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.1550

Abstract
Inbreeding and a consequent loss of genetic diversity threaten small, isolated populations. One mechanism by which genetically impoverished populations may become extinct is through decreased immunocompetence and higher susceptibility to parasites. Here, we investigate the relationship between immunity and inbreeding in bumblebees, using Hebridean island populations of Bombus muscorum. We sampled nine populations and recorded parasite prevalence and measured two aspects of immunity: the encapsulation response and levels of phenoloxidase (PO). We found that prevalence of the gut parasite Crithidia bombi was higher in populations with lower genetic diversity. Neither measure of immune activity was correlated with genetic diversity. However, levels of PO declined with age and were also negatively correlated with parasite abundance. Our results suggest that as insect populations lose heterozygosity, the impact of parasitism will increase, pushing threatened populations closer to extinction.

Keywords
inbreeding; social insects; heterozygosity; disease; immune defence; Bumblebees; Bumblebees Great Britain

Journal
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Volume 278, Issue 1709

StatusPublished
Author(s)Whitehorn, Penelope R; Tinsley, M C; Brown, Mark J F; Darvill, Ben; Goulson, Dave
Publication date22/04/2011
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/9109
PublisherThe Royal Society
ISSN0962-8452
Scroll back to the top