Oldest Varroa tolerant honey bee population provides insight into the origins of the global decline of honey bees

Brettell, LE and Martin, SJ 2017, 'Oldest Varroa tolerant honey bee population provides insight into the origins of the global decline of honey bees' , Scientific Reports, 7 .

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Abstract

The ecto-parasitic mite Varroa destructor has transformed the previously inconsequential Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) into the most important honey bee viral pathogen responsible for the death of millions of colonies worldwide. Naturally, DWV persists as a low level covert infection transmitted between nest-mates. It has long been speculated that Varroa via immunosuppression of the bees, activate a covert infection into an overt one. Here we show that despite Varroa feeding on a population of 20-40 colonies for over 30 years on the remote island of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil no such activation has occurred and DWV loads have remained at borderline levels of detection. This supports the alternative theory that for a new vector borne viral transmission cycle to start, an outbreak of an overt infection must first occur within the host. Therefore, we predict that this honey bee population is a ticking time-bomb, protected by its isolated position and small population size. This unique association between mite and bee persists due to the evolution of low Varroa reproduction rates. So the population is not adapted to tolerate Varroa and DWV, rather the viral quasi-species has simply not yet evolved the necessary mutations to produce a virulent variant.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
Related URLs:
Depositing User: WM Taylor
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2017 11:13
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2017 07:33
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/41567

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