Differential proteomics reveals novel insights into Nosema–honey bee interactions



Host manipulation is a common strategy by parasites to reduce host defense responses, enhance development, host exploitation, reproduction and, ultimately, transmission success. As these parasitic modifications can reduce host fitness, increased selection pressure may result in reciprocal adaptations of the host. Whereas the majority of studies on host manipulation have explored resistance against parasites (i.e. ability to prevent or limit an infection), data describing tolerance mechanisms (i.e. ability to limit harm of an infection) are scarce. By comparing differential protein abundance, we provide evidence of host-parasite interactions in the midgut proteomes of N. ceranae-infected and uninfected honey bees from both Nosema-tolerant and Nosema-sensitive lineages. We identified 16 proteins out of 661 protein spots that were differentially abundant between experimental groups. In general, infections of Nosema resulted in an up-regulation of the bee's energy metabolism. Additionally, we identified 8 proteins that were differentially abundant between tolerant and sensitive honey bees regardless of the Nosema infection. Those proteins were linked to metabolism, response to oxidative stress and apoptosis. In addition to bee proteins, we also identified 3 Nosema ceranae proteins. Interestingly, abundance of two of these Nosema proteins were significantly higher in infected Nosema-sensitive honeybees relative to the infected Nosema-tolerant lineage. This may provide a novel candidate for studying the molecular interplay between N. ceranae and its honey bee host in more detail.

Key Words

Host-parasite interaction, Apis mellifera, Nosema ceranae, Tolerance, Proteome, Coevolution

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