Depending on the infection level and colony strength, Nosema ceranae, a microsporidian endoparasite of the honey bee may have significant consequences on the health, reproduction and productivity of bee colonies. Despite exerting some side effects, fumagillin is most often used for Nosema control. In this study, in a cage experiment, N. ceranae infected bees were treated with fumagillin or the extract of Agaricus blazei mushroom, a possible alternative for Nosema control. Bee survival, Nosema spore loads, the expression levels of immune-related genes and parameters of oxidative stress were observed. Fumagillin treatment showed a negative effect on monitored parameters when applied preventively to non-infected bees, while a noticeable anti-Nosema effect and protection from Nosema-induced immunosuppression and oxidative stress were proven in Nosema-infected bees. However, a protective effect of the natural A. blazei extract was detected, without any side effects but with immunostimulatory activity in the preventive application. The results of this research suggest the potential of A. blazei extract for Nosema control, which needs to be further investigated.
Keywords: Agaricus blazei; Nosema ceranae; antioxidative protection; fumagillin; honey bee; immune-related gene expression; immunostimulation; mushroom extract.