, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 40-43
Date: 29 Sep 2008

The ectoparasitic mite Tropilaelaps mercedesae (Acari, Laelapidae) as a vector of honeybee viruses

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The ectoparasitic mites Varroa destructor and Tropilaelaps mercedesae share life history traits and both infect honeybee colonies, Apis mellifera. Since V. destructor is a biological vector of several honeybee viruses, we here test whether T. mercedesae can also be infected and enable virus replication. In Kunming (China), workers and T. mercedesae mites were sampled from three A. mellifera colonies, where workers were exhibiting clinical symptoms of deformed wing virus (DWV). We analysed a pooled bee sample (15 workers) and 29 mites for the presence of Deformed wing virus (DWV), Black queen cell virus (BQCV), Sacbrood virus (SBV), Kashmir bee virus (KBV), Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV), and Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV). Virus positive samples were analysed with a qPCR. Only DWV +RNA was found but with a high titre of up to 108 equivalent virus copies per mite and 106 per bee. Moreover, in all DWV positive mites (N= 12) and in the bee sample virus–RNA was also detected using RT-PCR and tagged RT-PCR, strongly suggesting virus replication. Our data show for the first time that T. mercedesae may be a biological vector of DWV, which would open a novel route of virus spread in A. mellifera.

Received 6 June 2008; revised 14 August 2008; accepted 10 September 2008.