Skip to main content

Spillover of chalkbrood fungi to native solitary bee species from non-native congeners


LeCroy, Kathryn et al. (2023), Spillover of chalkbrood fungi to native solitary bee species from non-native congeners, Dryad, Dataset,


Introduced, managed bees such as mason bees (genus Osmia) can confer significant pollination benefits to agricultural systems, but a risk of introducing non-native species into new ecosystems is the co-introduction of pathogens along with them. Pathogen spillover to wild, native bees may then drive native bee species declines.

This study examined prevalence of the chalkbrood-causing fungal genus Ascosphaera in the nests of both non-native and native mason bee species. We conducted large-scale trap-nesting and pan-trapping efforts across the Mid-Atlantic United States with community scientists. Using molecular methods, nests were screened for all known Ascosphaera species in which genetic sequences have been published. After finding Ascosphaera species first described in Asia, we compared their local prevalence with the local abundance of mason bees from Asia. Lastly, we compared the prevalence of co-introduced Ascosphaera species across sites with a variety of landcover profiles.

Results indicate species originally described in Japan, Ascosphaera naganensis and Ascosphaera fusiformis, are now present in native Virginia mason bees, Osmia lignaria and Osmia georgica, with high prevalence of A. naganensis found in O. georgica.

We also found that the declining native mason bee O. georgica experienced higher prevalence of non-native Ascosphaera spp. at sites with larger numbers of non-native O. cornifrons and O. taurus, perhaps indicating greater likelihood of spillover of these Ascosphaera species with greater sources of transmission. Lastly, when the proportion of agricultural landcover surrounding bee nests was high, there was significantly greater prevalence of non-native Ascosphaera in O. georgica compared to more natural landcover types.

Synthesis and applications. Through community science programming, we documented species of Japanese chalkbrood fungi inside native mason bee nests in North America. Native mason bees encounter non-native fungi more frequently with increasing abundance of non-native mason bees. Agricultural landscapes may exacerbate spillover of non-native fungi for native mason bees. The use of non-native bee species in agriculture should involve monitoring native bees for pathogens in the surrounding area for detection of spillover and species declines.


Please refer to the "Methods" section of the associated article, as well as Appendix S1 of the Supporting Information, where you will find all information related to methodogy and data processing.

Usage notes

Please see the “Materials and Methods” section of the associated article, as well as Appendix S1 of the Supporting Information for details on how these data were collected and processed.

Data_file01.csv contains data used for main analyses relating to Ascosphaera sequencing and landcover analysis. Data_file02.csv contains all collection data from pan traps, as described in Methods section.

See README for variable definitions. 


National Science Foundation

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Award: 2021-08318

Jefferson Scholars Foundation

Garden Club of Virginia