Nosemosis caused by N. ceranae in occidental and European bee (Apis mellifera) is a major health problem for both individual honey bees and whole colonies. A research group of a spanish university has developed a monoclonal antibody (Mab) with a good sensitivity (93.62%) and specificity (88.37%) that provides a specific, simple, rapid, and low cost diagnostic for nosemosis.
Microsporidia are a large and diverse group of highly specialized parasitic fungi, found in a wide range of hosts. To date, two microsporidian species infect honey bees worldwide:
1) Nosema apis that infects European honey bee (Apis mellifera).
2) Nosema ceranae initially found in Asian honey bee (Apis cerana) from China and presently known to infect also A. mellifera.
Nosemosis caused by N. apis, is characterized in acute forms by trembling of honey bee workers, bees with dilated abdomens, brown faecal marks on combs and the front of the hives, sick or dead bees near the hives and a decrease in brood production and in the size of bee colony, particularly in spring.
However, the emergent disease caused by N. ceranae, presents a different epidemiological pattern which shows no outward symptoms and it is considered a major health problem in both, individual honey bees and whole colonies.
As no clinical signs are recognized in the disease caused by N. ceranae, diagnostic requires the use of different microscopy techniques or molecular methods:
- Phase contrast microscopy (PCM): Nosema sp. spores appear refrigent but the spores of both species, N. ceranae and N. apis, have similar sizes, so they are difficult to differentiate using this method.
- Transmission electron microscopy (TEM): can differentiate species based on the number of polar filament coils.
- PCR: several protocols have been described.
However, both PCR and TEM, are expensive and time consuming techniques which require qualified staff, and may not be available in every laboratory.
The Mab against N. ceranae developed by the Spanish university, means an attainable Immunofluorescence assay (IFA) which allows the differential diagnosis of these two Nosema species.
They are looking for commercial agreement with technical assistance and license agreement with potential partners related to the agrifood sector (food industry, beekeeping,…) that have capacity for the development and commercialization of a diagnostic kit for routine and daily control of the hives. They are also seeking for partners interested in providing a diagnostic service in the beekeeping market.