, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 248-256
Date: 11 Oct 2013

Four quantitative trait loci associated with low Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) spore load in the honeybee Apis mellifera

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Nosema ceranae has been recently introduced into the honeybee Apis mellifera as a novel microsporidian gut parasite. To locate the genetic region involved in N. ceranae infection tolerance, we fed N. ceranae spores to haploid drones of a F1 hybrid queen produced from a cross between a queen of a Nosema-resistant bred strain and drones of susceptible colonies. The spore loads of the infected F1 drones were used as the phenotype to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with N. ceranae spore load. One hundred forty-eight infected drones were individually genotyped with microsatellite markers at an average marker distance of 20 cM along the genome. Four QTLs were significantly associated with low spore load, explaining 20.4 % of total spore load variance. Moreover, a candidate gene Aubergine (Aub) within the major QTL region was significantly overexpressed in drones with low spore loads than in those with high spore loads. Our results confirm the genetic basis of Nosema tolerance in the selected strain and show that both additive effects and epistatic interactions among the QTLs interfere with the tested phenotype.