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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2024

Shift in virus composition in honeybees (Apis mellifera) following worldwide invasion by the parasitic mite and virus vector Varroa destructor

Doublet, Vincent; Oddie, Melissa A. Y.; Mondet, Fanny; Forsgren, Eva; Dahle, Bjorn; Furuseth-Hansen, Elisabeth; Williams, Geoffrey R.; De Smet, Lina; Natsopoulou, Myrsini E.; Murray, Tomas E.; Semberg, Emilia; Yanez, Orlando; de Graaf, Dirk C.; Le Conte, Yves; Neumann, Peter; Rimstad, Espen; Paxton, Robert J.; de Miranda, Joachim R.

Abstract

Invasive vectors can induce dramatic changes in disease epidemiology. While viral emergence following geographical range expansion of a vector is well known, the influence a vector can have at the level of the host's pathobiome is less well understood. Taking advantage of the formerly heterogeneous spatial distribution of the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor that acts as potent virus vector among honeybees Apis mellifera, we investigated the impact of its recent global spread on the viral community of honeybees in a retrospective study of historical samples. We hypothesized that the vector has had an effect on the epidemiology of several bee viruses, potentially altering their transmissibility and/or virulence, and consequently their prevalence, abundance, or both. To test this, we quantified the prevalence and loads of 14 viruses from honeybee samples collected in mite-free and mite-infested populations in four independent geographical regions. The presence of the mite dramatically increased the prevalence and load of deformed wing virus, a cause of unsustainably high colony losses. In addition, several other viruses became more prevalent or were found at higher load in mite-infested areas, including viruses not known to be actively varroa-transmitted, but which may increase opportunistically in varroa-parasitized bees.

Keywords

black queen cell virus; deformed wing virus; emerging disease; honeybee; varroa mite; virome

Published in

Royal Society Open Science
2024, Volume: 11, number: 1, article number: 231529
Publisher: ROYAL SOC