Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry metabolite profiling of worker honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) hemolymph for the study of Nosema ceranae infection

J Insect Physiol. 2012 Oct;58(10):1349-59. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2012.07.010. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Here, we are presenting a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) approach for the study of infection of the worker honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) by the newly emerged obligate intracellular parasite Nosema ceranae based on metabolite profiling of hemolymph. Because of the severity of the disease, early detection is crucial for its efficient control. Results revealed that the parasite causes a general disturbance of the physiology of the honey bee affecting the mechanisms controlling the mobilization of energy reserves in infected individuals. The imposed nutritional and energetic stress to the host was depicted mainly in the decreased levels of the majority of carbohydrates and amino acids, including metabolites such as fructose, l-proline, and the cryoprotectants sorbitol and glycerol, which are implicated in various biochemical pathways. Interestingly, the level of glucose was detected at significantly higher levels in infected honey bees. Metabolomics analyses were in agreement with those of multiplex quantitative PCR analyses, indicating that it can be used as a complementary tool for the detection and the study of the physiology of the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bees / metabolism
  • Bees / microbiology*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Carboxylic Acids / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Hemolymph / metabolism*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Metabolomics
  • Mycoses / metabolism
  • Mycoses / veterinary*
  • Nosema / pathogenicity*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Amino Acids
  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Fatty Acids