|Le Conte, Yves|
Submitted to: Biomed Central (BMC) Genomics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/10/2008
Publication Date: 7/5/2008
Citation: Navajas, M., Migeon, A., Cedric, A., Cross, A.S., Martin, M., Robinson, G., Evans, J.D., Le Conte, Y. 2008. Differential gene expression of the honey bee Apis mellifera associated with Varroa destructor infection. Biomed Central (BMC) Genomics. 9:301. Interpretive Summary: Honey bees face numerous pests and pathogens, but Varroa mites are the primary threat worldwide, by weakening their bee hosts and by transmitting disease. Here we look at honey bee responses to Varroa parasitism by focusing on changes in gene activity in both resistant and susceptible bees. The results give insights into the effects of mites on bee health, and suggest that bee genotypes have a considerable impact on Varroa defenses. These results have implications for bee breeding and for understanding natural defenses against Varroa, important parts in strategies to decrease dependence on chemical mite treatments.
Technical Abstract: The parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, is the most serious pest of the western honey bee, Apis mellifera, and has caused the death of millions of colonies worldwide. We investigated whether Varroa infestation induces changes in Apis mellifera gene expression, and whether there are genotypic differences in the bee’s tolerance, as first steps toward unraveling mechanisms of host response and differences in susceptibility to Varroa parasitism. We identified a set of 127 genes with significantly different patterns of expression: 30 varied with the presence of Varroa, 99 varied with bee genotype, and 2 with both. These results suggest that differences in behavior, rather than in the immune system, underlie Varroa tolerance in honey bees. They provide a first step toward better understanding molecular pathways involved in this particular host-parasite relationship.