Chalkbrood is a disease of bee larvae that is caused by fungi in the genera Ascosphaera. The alfalfa leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata) is cultured in alfalfa fields on a mass scale to provide pollination for alfalfa seed production. Chalkbrood is a serious problem in leafcutter bee management, especially in the U.S. A. aggregata is thought to be the main species causing infections, but several other species occur in megachilids as well. We have been working on developing a DNA marker to allow us to identify Ascosphaera infections at the species level, even before infection is visible, and before sporulation. Spores are usually required for morphological identification, and many species are difficult to distinguish. We compare different PCR methods including the use of species specific primers, restriction analysis, and PCR-ELISA.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Megachilidae Megachile rotundata (alfalfa leafcutting bee)
Species 2: Ascosphaerales Ascosphaeraceae Ascosphaera (chalkbrood)
Keywords: chalkbrood identification, leafcutting bee management
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