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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #298393

Title: The Molecular Detection of Spiroplasma melliferum in Honey Bees, Apis mellifera

Author
item Zheng, Huoqing - ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY
item Chen, Yanping - Judy

Submitted to: Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/30/2014
Publication Date: 4/16/2014
Citation: Zheng, H., Chen, Y. 2014. The Molecular Detection of Spiroplasma melliferum in Honey Bees, Apis mellifera. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 119:47–49.

Interpretive Summary: Honeybees are attacked by numerous pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Spiroplasma is a group of small bacteria infecting a diverse array of plant and arthropod hosts. Using molecular methods, we conducted a study to investigate the presence and seasonal pattern of spiroplasm infection in honey bee colonies. Our data showed that one strain of spiroplasma is highly prevalent in honey bee colonies and has the most predominant peak of infection in Spring. The results of this study warrant further investigation to the disease effects of the pathogen on the honey bee hosts. The information obtained from this study should be of interest to the researchers, graduate students, apiary inspectors, and beekeepers in the honey bee society.

Technical Abstract: Spiroplasma is a genus of Mollicutes, a group of small bacteria without cell walls. Spiroplasma melliferum was firstly reported in 1977 in Beltsville Maryland as a disease agent of honey bees. However, Spiroplasmas infections in honey bees have not been reported since the 1980s although recently extensive research efforts for investigating the role and importance of pathogens on worldwide honey bee population declines. The present study examines the presence and seasonal pattern of spiroplasm infection in honey bee colonies using molecular methods. Our data showed S. melliferum is highly prevalent in honey bee colonies. The infection rate increased from 5% in February to 66.7% in May then decreased to 25% in June and 22% in July. The results of this study warrant further investigation to better understand the epidemiology and pathogenesis of the pathogen in honey bees and health impacts of the pathogen on the host.