Bumble bees can disseminate Pepino mosaic potexvirus
Pepino mosaic potexvirus (PepMV - EPPO Alert List) is easily transmitted by plant contact, common cultural practices (staking, pruning …) and insufficiently disinfected seeds. Observations also suggested that bumble bees (Bombus spp.) used as pollinators in tomato glasshouses may also play a role in disease dissemination. Trials were conducted in Spain (near Murcia) in tomato plastic houses with Bombus terrestris and B. canariensis. In spring, healthy tomato plants were transplanted in a commercial plastic house where infected tomato plants were growing. Symptoms of PepMV appeared 4 weeks after transplantation and after 7-8 weeks all transplanted tomatoes showed symptoms. On bumble bees, the virus was detected by ELISA mainly on legs (with and without pollen), but also on head and abdomen. Body extracts obtained from infected bumble bees were inoculated to healthy tomato plants, infections and symptoms were observed in more than 85% of the cases. Although, the exact mechanisms of dissemination of PepMV by Bombus species are not known, these studies demonstrated that they can spread the virus within tomato crops.
Lacasa, A.; Guerrero, M.M.; Hita, I.; Martínez, M.A.; Jordá, C.; Bielza, P.; Contreras, J.; Alcázar, A.; Cano, A. (2003) Implicaciones de los abejorros (Bombus spp.) en la dispersión del virus del mosaico del pepino dulce (Pepino mosaic virus) en cultivos de tomate.
Boletín de Sanidad Vegetal – Plagas, 29(3), 393-403.