Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Managing Diseases and Pests of Honey Bees to Improve Queen and Colony Health

Location: Bee Research

Title: Varroa destructor, a potential vector of Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus in honey bees, Apis mellifera

Authors
item Diprisco, Gennaro -
item Pennacchio, Francesco -
item Caprio, Emilio -
item Boncristiani Jr, Humberto
item Evans, Jay
item Chen, Yanping

Submitted to: Journal of General Virology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 10, 2010
Publication Date: April 8, 2010
Citation: Diprisco, G., Pennacchio, F., Caprio, E., Boncristiani Jr, H.F., Evans, J.D., Chen, Y. 2010. Varroa destructor, a potential vector of Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus in honey bees, Apis mellifera. Journal of General Virology. 92:151-155.

Interpretive Summary: Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) was found to be associated with honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in an initial survey. Here we demonstrate for the first time that parasitic Varroa mites are capable of transmitting IAPV in honey bees. Our study showed that when honey bees were exposed to Varroa mites that carried the virus, they could pick up infections and that virus-free mites became virus-positive by co-feeding on the same bees with virus-positive mites. Our study also showed that the virus concentration in bees originating from weak colonies was significantly higher than bees originating from strong colonies, suggesting that bee health is a strong predictor of the ability of bees to resist viruses. The information obtained from this study enhances our understanding of mechanisms of honey bee disease problems and can be used by beekeepers in managing viral disease and by researchers seeking answers to honey bee declines such as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Technical Abstract: Although the role of the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, as a vector in transmission of viruses between honey bees is well established, no study has shown that it can similarly transmit Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), a virus that was found to be associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in an initial survey. We demonstrate for the first time that Varroa mites are capable of transmitting IAPV in honey bees. The transmission experiments showed that when honey bees were exposed to Varroa mites that carried the virus, they could pick up infections, and that increased numbers of Varroa mites promoted the transmission of the virus. The transmission experiments also showed a route of mite-to-mite transmission in which virus-free mites became virus-positive by co-feeding on the same bees with virus-positive mites. The quantification of the virus showed that IAPV load in bees was positively correlated with the density of Varroa mites and that a prolonged period of Varroa feeding could lead to an increase in virus titer, suggesting that the Varroa mite is not only a vector but also an activator of IAPV in honey bees. Transcript levels of apidaecin and eater, proteins involved in honey bee immunity were shown to be up-regulated in response to Varroa mite infestation and IAPV infection. In addition, both replication of IAPV and the abundance of immune transcripts were affected by the different health backgrounds of bees. The observation of relatively lower levels of expression of immune transcripts and higher level of virus infection and titer in bees originating from weak colonies suggests that health conditions had a significant impact on the host immune-competence to resist virus infection. The information obtained from this study enhances our understanding of mechanisms of honey bee disease problems including CCD and could have important implications in the natural epidemiology of diseases.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014