Anja Tehel

Wissenschaftlicher Gast

Research Project


"Pathogen spill-over between pollinators: directionality and impact on biodiversity"

Bees are very important pollinators for wild plants and crops. Around 80 % of our crops are dependent on the ecosystem service of pollination and therefore bees are essential for the security of food supply. It has been shown that the presence of wild insects increase the crop yield in comparison to pollination only with honey bees (Garibaldi et al. 2013). But there is considerable evidence that wild bees are declining (Bartomeus et al. 2013, Carvalheiro et al. 2013, Biesmeijer et al. 2006). Pathogens that are till now linked with honeybees are talked about as one out of many possible reasons for declines. It was shown by Fürst et al. (2014) that wild bees and honeybees collected in the same regions of Great Britain contained the same strain of Deforming Wing Virus, a major honey bee pathogen. So it is not only that honeybee viruses are present in wild bees, there is evidence of ongoing or recent transmission of viral diseases between managed and wild bee populations. But there is little knowledge about the main direction of spread of pathogens between pollinator genera. The aim of my project is to investigate the directionality of virus transmission between different bee species and gain a better understanding of the virulence of different RNA-viruses in wild bee species.

Research questions

1. Determine virulence of different viruses for some wild bee species in cage experiments in the lab.

2. Assessment of the possibility of pathogen spillover between honey bees and wild bees and vise versa in semi-field experiments.

3.Quantification of the possibility of DWV spillover from honey bees to wild bees in an open field experiment.

Links to iDiv questions

The project addresses one of the main questions of iDiv: the effectively safeguard of biodiversity.

If honey bee RNA-viruses like Deforming Wing Virus, Black Queen Cell Virus, Acute Bee Paralysis Virus or other viruses have a negative effect on wild bees, these pathogens are potentially threatening our wild bee biodiversity. A loss in bee diversity could possibly lead to a loss in plant diversity, too, because the majority of the around 550 bee species in Germany are specialists and closely associated to certain plants that dependent on their pollination services. To secure overall biodiversity, one essential step is to safeguard our pollinators.

Short CV


Since 2015
PhD student, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Institute of Biology, General Zoology

2011 - 2014

M.Sc. Biology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Master’s thesis: ‘Insights into the social organisation and patterns of spatial genetic structure in the primitively eusocial sweat bee, Lasioglossum laticeps (Hymenoptera, Halictidae)’

2008 – 2011

B.Sc. Biology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Bachelor’s thesis: ‚Influence of light-dark cycles with different amplitude and frequency on the activity rhythm of Phodopus sungorus



Tehel, A., Brown, M. J. F., Paxton, R. J.

(2016): Impact of managed honey bee viruses on wild bees. Current Opinion in Virology
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Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Allgemeine Zoologie
Hoher Weg 8
06120 Halle/Saale

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Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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