Mikayla Zarr
Faculty Advisor: Scott McArt
Year: 2021

“Prevalence of Crithidia bombi within manipulated and wild bee populations”

Project Summary:

Bees are one of many pollinators on Earth that contribute to most plant, fruit, and vegetable production. With patches of pollen sources around, some flowers tend to be visited by many bees within one day. Crithidia bombi, a species of a gut parasite, can be found in fecal matter left behind by previous bees who visit frequently populated flowers. Current research shows the negative impacts the parasite has on bees and how the bumblebee (Bombus) causes for high prevalence towards the end of the summer season. My project centers around an observational and manipulative experiment to determine how many bees have C. bombi in the wild as well as which bees can become infected. After screening over 500 bees and inoculating/analyzing hundreds more from past data, we were able to gather new results. The data showed different bee genera were able to have large scale C. bombi replication within our manipulated experiments. Our wild bee samples showed that the Bombus genus did not have influence on the prevalence of C. bombi over the program’s timeframe.

My Experience:

My experience participating in the BTI program has been nothing but wonderful. Before this summer, I was unsure of what my future would look like and was nervous to participate in a real lab experience. After spending 2 months with the McArt lab, I learned what it was like to perform research and how much fun it truly was! It was satisfying and refreshing to expand my knowledge and interests outside of my comfort zone. I feel more confident in my scientific abilities, and I am so grateful for being given this amazing opportunity!