Within-host dynamics of an intestinal pathogen of bumble bees

a1 Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, 25 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 3G5

Article author query
otterstatter mc   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
thomson jd   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The success of a pathogen depends not only on its transmission to new hosts, but also on its ability to colonize and persist within its current host. Studies of within-host dynamics have focused on only a few diseases of humans, whereas little is known about the factors that influence pathogen populations as they develop inside non-human hosts. Here, we investigate pathogen dynamics occurring within bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) infected by the gut trypanosome Crithidia bombi. Infection by C. bombi showed several features characteristic of vertebrate diseases, including a rapid initial increase in infection intensity, marked oscillations in parasitaemia, and the stimulation of a systemic immune response in infected bees. Within-host dynamics generated substantial variation in the infectiousness and flower-visiting behaviour of bumble bees. Changes in bee foraging that arise from infection may influence the probability of C. bombi transmission between bees at flowers.

(Received May 27 2006)
(Revised May 30 2006)
(Accepted June 20 2006)
(Published Online September 4 2006)

Key Words: Crithidia bombi; Bombus; bumble bees; pathogen transmission; within-host dynamics.

c1 Tel: +1 416 946 5521. E-mail: