“Bees & Disease: Identifying Crithidia bombi in wild bees”
Pollinators serve a critical role in our native ecosystems as well as agricultural crops, providing billions of dollars in pollination services annually. Recently, parasites have been linked to declines of several pollinator species. Crithidia bombi is a parasite that affects bee survival and colony development. It has been found specifically in bumble bees.
Parasite spillover is classically defined as occurring when a reservoir host species transmits a parasite to a recipient or “target” host species. Multiple factors must align for spillover to occur. Understanding when parasite spillover will occur from a reservoir to target species is critical for ensuring human and wildlife health. The abundance of different bee and flower species is highly dynamic over time, and distinct species vary in their contribution to parasite prevalence through time.
From this research, we hope to obtain a better understanding of the spread of C. bombi strains and analyze any trends that could lead to a potential leading cause for its prevalence within bee colonies and species. By sampling bee and flower communities, we expect to see a trend of Crithidia bombi prevalence in transient reservoir communities and/or species in time-varying networks.
My ten weeks spent with the Boyce Thompson Institute have been immensely helpful in taking the next steps for my future career. I would like to thank both Megan and Olivia for always being so kind and available to the interns.
My experience in the McArt lab has been nothing short of amazing. The entire lab was welcoming and always there to help from the very first day. I will miss the lab barbecues and ice cream trips very much. Participating in this project has allowed me to learn new techniques and increased my confidence in the ability to conduct research. As an animal science major, I have gained a lot of knowledge of the many collaborations between entomologists and animal scientists/veterinarians.
I plan to take my knowledge and experiences to my home institution and encourage others to apply to this wonderful program. It has helped me in so many ways and for that, I am forever grateful.