Quantitative and qualitative changes in the Deformed wing virus population in honey bees associated with the introduction or removal of Varroa destructor
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Varroa destructor is an ectoparasitic mite associated with significant losses of honeybee colonies globally. The mite vectors a range of pathogenic viruses, the most important of which is the Deformed wing virus (DWV). In the absence of Varroa, DWV exists as a low-level, highly diverse virus population. However, when transmitted by Varroa, certain variants become highly elevated, and may become near-clonal and cause symptomatic infections. Mite transmission between colonies can occur when parasitised workers drift from or rob adjacent hives. These activities can result in elevated mite levels, but the resulting change in the DWV population, the primary determinant of winter colony losses, has not been determined. In reciprocal studies, we investigated the influence of the removal of mites, or their acquisition, on the DWV population. When mites were removed from heavily infested colonies, there was a striking and rapid reduction in virus load. Conversely, siting Varroa-naïve colonies in a mite-infested apiary resulted in the acquisition of mites and concomitant changes in the virus population. We observed both near-clonal and highly divergent virus populations regardless of titre, suggesting changes were stochastic and colony-specific. Our findings have implications for the outcome of strategies in areas with total or patchy implementation of Varroa control plans.
Woodford , L , Christie , C R , Campbell , E M , Budge , G E , Bowman , A & Evans , D J 2022 , ' Quantitative and qualitative changes in the Deformed wing virus population in honey bees associated with the introduction or removal of Varroa destructor ' , Viruses , vol. 14 , no. 8 , 1597 . https://doi.org/10.3390/v14081597
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
DescriptionFunding: This research was funded by the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), grant number: BB/M010996/1 and BB/S008705/1 (http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk ). C.R.C. was part-supported by a KTN BBSRC CASE studentship BB/M503526/1. EMC was supported from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 613960 (SMARTBEES - (http://www.smartbees-fp7.eu).
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