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Title: Diagnostic genetic test for the honey bee tracheal mite, Acarapis woodi

item Evans, Jay
item Pettis, Jeffery
item Smith Jr, Irving

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/10/2007
Publication Date: 7/9/2007
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.

Technical Abstract: 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.