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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 Laboratory

Title: Host Range Expansion of Honey Bee Black Queen Cell Virus in the Bumble Bee, Bombus huntii

item Peng, Wenjun
item Li, Jilian
item Boncristiani Jr, Humberto
item Strange, James - Jamie
item Hamilton, Michele
item Chen, Yanping - Judy

Submitted to: Apidologie
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/22/2010
Publication Date: 6/10/2011
Citation: Peng, W., Li, J., Boncristiani Jr, H.F., Strange, J.P., Hamilton, M.C., Chen, Y. 2011. Host range expansion of honey bee black queen cell virus in the bumble bee, bombus huntii. Apidologie. 42:650-658.

Interpretive Summary: Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) is one of the most common and prevalent honey bee viruses and infects different stages of honey bees. The BQCV-infected queen pupae rapidly darken following death and eventually the walls of the queen cell become black in color. Here we provide the first evidence that BQCV could cause an infection in a species of both laboratory-reared and field-collected bumble bees, important pollinators of many crops. The infection of BQCV was more widespread in bumble bees collected from the field in comparison to laboratory-reared bees. When pathogens cross a species barrier to spread in new hosts, the transmission of pathogens may result in the emergence of new diseases in animals. This research adds additional importance to viral disease control and can be used by scientists and apiary inspectors to monitor honey bee and bumble bee colonies for viruses to prevent the spread of disease.

Technical Abstract: Honey bee viruses display a host range that is not restricted to their original host, European honey bees, Apis mellifera. Here we provide the first evidence that Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV), one of the most prevalent honey bee viruses, can cause an infection in both laboratory-reared and field-collected bumble bees, Bombus huntii, with the infection spreading to different tissues within the bumble bees. Additionally, the infection of BQCV was more widespread in bumble bees collected from the field in comparison to laboratory-reared bees. The detection of negative strand RNA of BQCV, an indicator of active virus replication, in the gut of B. huntii suggests that the gut is a primary site of BQCV infection and that the virus particles replicate within the gut and then cross the gut lining to other tissues through hemolymph circulation. The observation of active replication of the BQCV in the gut, together with the fact that BQCV was more widespread in the body of field-collected bees than that of lab-reared bees, implies a possible association between the foraging activities of bumble bees and virus transmission. The fact that bumble bees and honey bees are able to share nectar and pollen resources in the same field suggests that geographical proximity of two host species, could play a role in host range breadth of BQCV.

Last Modified: 08/16/2017
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