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Evidence of Varroa-mediated Deformed Wing virus spillover in Hawaii

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Title:Evidence of Varroa-mediated Deformed Wing virus spillover in Hawaii
Authors:Santamaria, Jessika
Villalobos, Ethel M.
Brettell, Laura E.
Nikaido, Scott
Graham, Jason R.
show 1 moreMartin, Stephen
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Keywords:Varroa mite
deformed wing virus
pollinator health
viral transmission
viral spillover
show 1 moreApis mellifera
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Date Issued:11 Dec 2017
Abstract:Varroa destructor, a parasitic mite of honey bees, is also a vector for viral diseases. The mite displays high host specificity and requires access to colonies of Apis spp. to complete its lifecycle. In contrast, the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), one of the many viruses transmitted by V. destructor, appears to have a much broader host range. Previous studies have detected DWV in a variety of insect groups that are not directly parasitized by the mite. In this study, we take advantage of the discrete distribution of the Varroa mite in the Hawaiian archipelago to compare DWV prevalence on non-Apis flower visitors, and test whether Varroa presence is linked to a “viral spillover”. We selected two islands with different viral landscapes: Oahu, where V. destructor has been present since 2007, and Maui, where the mite is absent. We sampled individuals of Apis mellifera, Ceratina smaragdula, Polistes aurifer, and Polistes exclamens, to assess and compare the DWV prevalence in the Hymenoptera community of the two islands. The results indicated that, as expected, honey bee colonies on Oahu have much higher incidence of DWV compared to Maui. Correspondingly, DWV was detected on the Non-Apis Hymenoptera collected from Oahu, but was absent in the species examined on Maui. The study sites selected shared a similar geography, climate, and insect fauna, but differed in the presence of the Varroa mite, suggesting an indirect, but significant, increase on DWV prevalence in the Hymenoptera community on mite-infected islands.
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