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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #438855

Research Project: Development of Novel Controls for Honey Bee Parasitic Varroa Mites

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-21000-291-027-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Aug 4, 2020
End Date: Sep 29, 2021

This agreement will identify novel means to control harmful Varroa mites including identifying novel varroacies that will eventually be registered and licensed for beekeeper use, or to design methods for interrupting Varroa mite reproduction. To meet these goals, the project has the following research objectives: Objective 1 is to screen dozens of candidate compounds in laboratory acute toxicity trials to and assess their efficacy against Varroa mites and safety for bees. Objective 2 will take compounds showing promise from laboratory trials, and run field trials using these compounds in whole honey bee colonies. Objective 3 will use proteomic, immunohistology and immunochemical analyses to identify honey bee proteins shunted into their eggs, and the contribution of host-derived proteins to Varroa mite reproduction, and also their movements within Varroa mites and/or their eggs. Objective 4 will use in-house protocols and resources to track movements of host-derived proteins ingested by mites through their bodies and into developing eggs.

For Objectives 1-3, standard, widely accepted protocols for conducting both laboratory and field experiments with honey bees/Varroa mites will be followed. These include coating surfaces with different concentrations of toxicants and recording honey bee and Varroa mite mortality over 24-48 hours for constructing dose-response curves that will give lethal concentration values. These data will be used for determining doses used in cage and field trials. For Objective 4, tissue preparations of mites treated with tissue-specific stains and/or with host specific antibodies will be collected along a time series (from ingestion to egg laying, an approximately 30-hour time span) and analyzed using fluorescent microscopy, will help decipher the major locations (sinks) for specific tissues within the parasites. The lyrate organ is hypothesized to be a sink of many of the host-derived proteins sequestered by Varroa mites.