Submitted to: Apidologie
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 17, 2002
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: While many parasites and pathogens impact honey bee health, Varroa mites are arguably the most serious honey bee pest worldwide. Recent genetic evidence suggested that the original identification of these mites was incorrect. This misidentification has a direct impact on control strategies that involve identifying resistant strains of honey bees, and on identifying damaging mites. In this report we provide needed genetic tools that will help clarify the genetic structure of Varroa mites. This information will be used by scientists and beekeeping professionals to help predict the genetic causes of mite virulence and resistance to chemical controls.
Mites in the genus Varroa are the primary parasites of honey bees on several continents. Genetic analyses based on Varroa mitochondrial DNA have played a central role in establishing Varroa taxonomy and dispersal. Here we present a ten-fold expansion of mitochondrial sequence data for Varroa destructor (5,432 base-pairs) and compare this sequence with other arthropods. Varroa has a relatively compact mitochondrial genome (~14,500 bp) that appears to be similar in gene order and composition to that of most arthropods. We describe a dispersed set of oligonucleotide primers that can be used both to address remaining genetic questions for Varroa and to systematically sequence the entire Varroa mitochondrion. A subset of these primers should be useful for taxonomic and phylogenetic studies in other mites and ticks.