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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #317231

Title: Genome characterization, prevalence and distribution of a Macula-like virus from Apis mellifera and Varroa destructor

item DE MIRANDA, JOACHIM - Swedish University Of Agricultural Sciences
item CORNMAN, ROBERT - Non ARS Employee
item Evans, Jay
item HADDAD, NIZAR - National Center For Agricultural Research And Extension (NCARTT)
item NEUMANN, PETER - University Of Bern
item GAUTHIER, LAURENT - Agroscope

Submitted to: Viruses
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/28/2017
Publication Date: 10/20/2015
Citation: De Miranda, J., Cornman, R.S., Evans, J.D., Haddad, N., Neumann, P., Gauthier, L. 2015. Genome characterization, prevalence and distribution of a Macula-like virus from Apis mellifera and Varroa destructor. Viruses. 7:3586-3602.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees faces numerous parasites and pathogens, but the mite Varroa destructor is the primary threat to bee health. Varroa mites harbor viruses that might affect their own health as well as the health of their bee hosts. This paper describes one such virus, discovered in both Europe and the U.S. via RNA sequencing. By characterizing the genetic traits of this virus we intend to determine it’s interaction with bees, affects on bee health, and possible use as an agent for controlling Varroa mites. These results will be used by researchers and regulators in order to determine and act on traits of this virus in order to improve bee health.

Technical Abstract: Numerous viruses have been detected in honeybees, which can be roughly divided into 14 unique and distinct species-complexes, each with one or more strains or sub-species. Here we present the initial characterization of an entirely new virus species-complex discovered in honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) and varroa mite (Varroa destructor) samples from Europe and the USA. The virus has a naturally poly-adenylated RNA genome of about 6500 nucleotides with a genome organization and sequence similarity closely related to that of the Tymoviridae (Tymovirales; Tymoviridae), a predominantly plant-infecting virus family. Literature and laboratory analyses indicated that the virus had not been previously described. The virus is very common in French apiaries, mirroring the results from an extensive Belgian survey. However, it could not be detected in equally extensive bee disease surveys in Sweden and Norway. The virus appears to be closely linked to varroa, with the highest prevalence and titers found in varroa samples and a clear seasonal distribution peaking in autumn, coinciding with the natural varroa population development. Its primary host may therefore be Varroa destructor, rather than honeybees, and the tentative name of Varroa destructor Macula-like virus (VdMLV) is proposed. A second, distantly related Tymoviridae-like virus was also discovered. Keywords: Honey bee, virus, pollination