Immunogene and Viral Transcript Dynamics During Parasitic Varroa destructor Mite Infection of Developing Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Pupae

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Olav Rueppell, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The ectoparasitic Varroa destructor mite is a major contributor to the ongoing honey bee health crisis. Varroa interacts with honey bee viruses, exacerbating their pathogenicity. In addition to vectoring viruses, immunosuppression of the developing honey bee hosts by Varroa has been proposed to explain the synergy between viruses and mites. However, the evidence for honey bee immune suppression by V. destructor is contentious. We systematically studied the quantitative effects of experimentally introduced V. destructor mites on immune gene expression at five specific time points during the development of the honey bee hosts. Mites reproduced normally and were associated with increased titers of deformed wing virus in the developing bees. Our data on different immune genes show little evidence for immunosuppression of honey bees by V. destructor. Experimental wounding of developing bees increases relative immune gene expression and deformed wing virus titers. Combined, these results suggest that mite feeding activity itself and not immunosuppression may contribute to the synergy between viruses and mites. However, our results also suggest that increased expression of honey bee immune genes decreases mite reproductive success, which may be explored to enhance mite control strategies. Finally, our expression data for multiple immune genes across developmental time and different experimental treatments indicates co-regulation of several of these genes and thus improves our understanding of the understudied honey bee immune system.

Additional Information

Journal of Experimental Biology, 217(10), 1710-1718
Language: English
Date: 2014
Deformed wing virus, DWV, Immunity, Development, Honey bee health, Apis mellifera, Arthropod–virus interactions, Stress, Reproduction

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