The Effect of Artificial Media and Temperature on the Growth and Development of the Honey Bee Brood Pathogen Ascosphaera apis

Biology (Basel). 2021 May 12;10(5):431. doi: 10.3390/biology10050431.


Ascosphaera apis is a causative agent of chalkbrood, which is one of the most widespread honey bee diseases. In our experiments, the influence of several artificial media and cultivation under different temperatures was evaluated. Concretely, the radial growth of separated mating types was measured, reproductive structures in a Neubauer hemocytometer chamber were counted simultaneously, and the morphometry of spore cysts and spore balls was assessed. The complex set of experiments determined suitable cultivation conditions. A specific pattern between reproductive structure size and temperature was found. The optimal temperature for both mating types was 30 °C. SDA and YGPSA media are suitable for fast mycelial growth. Moreover, the effect of bee brood on fungus growth and development in vitro was investigated by modification of culture medium. The newly modified medium PDA-BB4 was most effective for the production of the reproductive structures. The result suggests that honey bee brood provides necessary nutrients for proper fungus development during in vitro cultivation. As there is no registered therapeutic agent against chalkbrood in most countries, including the European Union, the assessment of A. apis growth and development in different conditions could help to understand fungus pathogenesis and thus control chalkbrood disease.

Keywords: Apis mellifera; chalkbrood; cultivation; culture media; sporulation.