The distribution of genotypes of the trypanosome parasite, Crithidia bombi, in populations of its host, Bombus terrestris

a1 ETH Zurich, Ecology and Evolution, ETH-Zentrum NW, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland

Article author query
schmid-hempel p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
reber funk c   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


This study reports the distribution of parasite genotypes for the trypanosome Crithidia bombi across individual units (the colonies) in host populations of a social insect, the bumble bee Bombus terrestris. A number of microsatellite primers were developed and several of them were found to be polymorphic in our samples. Furthermore, a simple algorithm was used to identify the likely multi-locus genotypes present in multiply infected host individuals. The results demonstrated a remarkably high degree of genetic diversity among infections. A first sample from 1997 could only use a low resolution with 2 loci and showed a total of 11 different genotypes of C. bombi from 12 colonies. The sample from 2000 was analysed at 6 polymorphic loci and contained data from 8 colonies that were infected by 27 different C. bombi genotypes. Roughly 16% of all individual bees but half of all colonies (2000 sample) were infected with more than 1 genotype. The infections in the different colonies were also genetically distinct from each other, and the parasite population as a whole was in linkage disequilibrium and deviated from Hardy–Weinberg expectations. The highly structured and genetically diversified population of C. bombi is likely to result from strong genotypic host–parasite interactions.

(Received October 21 2003)
(Revised January 28 2004)
(Accepted January 28 2004)

Key Words: population structure; parasite; microsatellite; Trypanosomatidae; Bombus terrestris; Crithidia bombi.

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