Abstracts (first author)
Variation in disease epidemics across colonies
Colonies of social insects are paradigmatic study subjects for how diseases spread in social groups. Infections are typically acquired naturally from an external source and passed on to the colony members whilst the colony grows and develops through its normal cycle. Here, we report on the spread of an infectious pathogen, the trypanosome Crithidia bombi inside colonies of its host, Bombus terrestris. We show how extensive variation leads to very different outcomes across groups; furthermore, we demonstrate how the parasite population changes genetically as the epidemics unfolds. The data will be embedded in a more general conceptual framework.