Transmission of Vairimorpha invictae (Microsporidia: Burenellidae) infections between red imported fire ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) colonies.

Journal of invertebrate pathology

PubMedID: 15766927

Oi DH, Briano JA, Valles SM, Williams DF. Transmission of Vairimorpha invictae (Microsporidia: Burenellidae) infections between red imported fire ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) colonies. J Invertebr Pathol. 2005;88(2):108-15.
Red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, colonies were successfully infected with the microsporidium Vairimorpha invictae by introducing live larvae, pupae, or dead adults from V. invictae-infected field colonies collected in Argentina. Introductions with 4th instar larvae or non-melanized pupae obtained from infected field colonies, resulted in infection of 40% of the inoculated colonies. Introductions of 4th instars or melanized pupae produced from colonies that were initially infected in the laboratory, resulted in infections of 83% of the colonies, thus perpetuating the infection in other colonies. Infection was detected in 2 of 6 colonies after introducing adult worker caste ants that had died with V. invictae. The average number of adults and the volume of immature ants per colony were significantly lower in the infected than in the control colonies. Infected colonies had 86% fewer adults per colony and 82% less immature ants than the controls. A portion of the 16S rRNA gene of the V. invictae identified from these studies was amplified, cloned, and sequenced; the 1251 nucleotide amplicon was 100% identical to the 16S rRNA gene sequence recorded previously in the GenBank database, thus verifying the species as V. invictae. This is the first report of the artificial transmission of this pathogen to uninfected ant colonies, and demonstration of its ability to hinder growth in individual colonies.