Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 10, 2007
Publication Date: July 9, 2007
Citation: Evans, J.D., Pettis, J.S., Smith Jr, I.B. 2007. Diagnostic genetic test for the honey bee tracheal mite, Acarapis woodi. Journal of Apicultural Research. 46(3):1-5.
Interpretive Summary: Honey bees and beekeepers face significant challenges from two important parasitic mite species, Varroa destructor and Acarapis woodi. Of these two, the tracheal mite A. woodi presents a more significant diagnostic challenge, since these mites are microscopic and spend most of their life inside adult bees. To better identify and characterize tracheal mites we have developed a genetic diagnostic test similar to that used for other honey bee pests and pathogens. The test is highly sensitive, picking up even individual mites. Along with providing a new research tool for those studying tracheal mites, this test could provide an alternate method of diagnosing this important disease, aiding beekeepers seeking to make management decisions.
The tracheal mite, Acarapis woodi, has become a worldwide pest of honey bees. Identification and description of A. woodi is hampered by the minute size of these mites, their cryptic lifestyle, and a general lack of strong morphological differences with relatives. Here we describe a diagnostic genetic test for these mites, based on the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene. The test is highly specific and sensitive, on par with expert dissections of honey bee trachea. We further describe a nested-PCR approach that is capable of detecting even single mites. This diagnostic test can complement and expand upon existing methods and offers a new opportunity to explore taxonomic and population-genetic questions in tracheal mites.