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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Genome Characterization, Prevalence and Distribution of a Macula-Like Virus from Apis mellifera and Varroa destructor

Rodrigues De Miranda, Joachim; Cornman, Robert S; Evans, Jay D; Semberg, Emilia; Haddad, Nizar; Neumann, Peter; Gauthier, Laurent


Around 14 distinct virus species-complexes have been detected in honeybees, 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 similar to the Tymoviridae (Tymovirales; Tymoviridae), a predominantly plant-infecting virus family. Literature and laboratory analyses indicated that the virus had not previously been described. The virus is very common in French apiaries, mirroring the results from an extensive Belgian survey, but could not be detected in equally-extensive Swedish and Norwegian bee disease surveys. The virus appears to be closely linked to varroa, with the highest prevalence found in varroa samples and a clear seasonal distribution peaking in autumn, coinciding with the natural varroa population development. Sub-genomic RNA analyses show that bees are definite hosts, while varroa is a possible host and likely vector. The tentative name of Bee Macula-like virus (BeeMLV) is therefore proposed. A second, distantly related Tymoviridae-like virus was also discovered in varroa transcriptomes, tentatively named Varroa Tymo-like virus (VTLV).


honeybee; Apis mellifera; Varroa destructor; virus; Tymoviridae; Maculavirus; Marafivirus; Tymovirus

Published in

2015, volume: 7, number: 7, pages: 3586-3602

Authors' information

Pennsylvania State University
Queen's University Belfast
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Cornman, Robert S
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Evans, Jay D
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Haddad, Nizar
National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension
Neumann, Peter
University of Bern
Gauthier, Laurent

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