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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: GENOME CHARACTERIZATION OF THE MITE VARROA DESTRUCTOR, THE PRIMARY PEST OF HONEY BEES

Location: Bee Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is the central pest of domesticated and free-living honey bee, causing direct impacts on bee health as well as indirect effects caused by vectoring viruses and other bee disease agents. We propose to use emerging high-throughput sequencing techniques to sequence, assemble and annotate the genome of this mite, and use the resulting insights to improve honey bee health and crop pollination. We will increase project impacts through a cost-effective partnership across existing academic sequencing and informatics centers and by choosing appropriate sequencing techniques for specific questions. We will leverage this project by engaging ca. 40 academic and governmental researchers in a volunteer consortium, 22 of whom met along with nine industry leaders for an initial ‘Varroa Genome Workshop’ in January, 2009, at the American Beekeeping Federation Annual Convention, Reno Nevada.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
1) Continued genomic sequencing to 20x coverage with an ‘optimal’ mix of straight and end-pair 454 reads, followed by genome assembly; 2) Transcriptome surveys using 454 pyrosequencing, focused on: a) nymphal development, b) host finding (tarsal library), c) immune responses (gut with and without virus infection), and d) gut microbes; 3) SNP and protein polymorphism discovery using the ABI SOLiD platform on the mite transcriptome. Mites will be from the Midwestern, Southern, mid-Atlantic and Western U.S. as well as ‘outgroups’ from Australia and France. These data will be aligned with homologous sequence data from the genome reads (Maryland mite), and from the 454 transcriptome reads to give an abundance of SNPs; and 4) Development and testing of a canonical gene set and posting of emerging data via Beebase, NCBI, and other public databases.


3.Progress Report

This research contributes to the Build a Genome Project for Varroa mites, a central pest of honey bees worldwide, and a key research pest in the parent project. The results will enhance the bioinformatic analyses of this project. One genome assembly has been generated and the genes on this assembly have been described in Genbank and in one summary manuscript. Progress on further work is monitored by monthly phone calls and frequent e-mail communication with Georgetown University.


Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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