Viral diseases of honeybees are a major concern in apiculture, causing serious colony losses worldwide, especially in combination with the mite Varroa jacobsoni. It has been suggested that mites may be vectors and/or activators of several honey bee viruses, particularly deformed wing virus, Kashmir bee virus (KBV), acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV), and black queen cell virus (BQCV). The biology of bee viral diseases, their relationship with mites, and their effects on bees are poorly understood. To better understand the relationship among viruses, mites and colony decline, we are characterizing several bee viruses. We have obtained the complete genomic sequence of a North American KBV isolate. The KBV genome has two major open reading frames, which encoding a nonstructural and a structural polyprotein, respectively. We further used this genomic information to design a serological test for KBV. For this, we expressed two structural proteins in the bacterial protein expression system and used the recombinant proteins to raise polyclonal antibodies. In Pennsylvania bee colonies, we also demonstrated the existence of latent BQCV infections, which could be activated by injection of bee pupae with insect Ringerís saline. The procured BQCV was further characterized and confirmed by transmission electron microscope, ELISA, and partial sequencing of its genome. To test if the persistence of bee viruses is correlated with mite infestations, we comparatively studied the existence of KBV, BQCV, and ABPV in bee colonies with different mite levels.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (Honey bee)
Species 2: Acari Varroidae Varroa jacobsoni (varroa mite)
Keywords: bee virus, molecular cloning
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