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Detection, replication and quantification of deformed wing virus-A, deformed wing virus-B, and black queen cell virus in the endemic stingless bee, Melipona colimana, from Jalisco, Mexico

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Melipona colimana is a stingless bee endemic to the temperate regions of Jalisco, Mexico, where it provides pollinating services and is cultured for the production of honey and cerumen. There is little information about the sanitary status of M. colimana, but it is critical to know more about it to keep these bees healthy and productive. The proximity of M. colimana colonies to commercial honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies could facilitate pathogens transmission between the two species. We determined the presence, replication, and levels of two variants of deformed wing virus (DWV-A and DWV-B), and black queen cell virus (BQCV) in samples of M. colimana and A. mellifera. We also compared the DWV-A variant with variants from other regions of the world. Both A. mellifera and M. colimana were positive to DWV-A and BQCV, but negative to DWV-B. Quantification analyses showed that A. mellifera had significantly higher levels of DWV-A and BQCV than did M. colimana. Additionally, evidence of DWV-A and BQCV replication in M. colimana was demonstrated by visualizing the minus-strand of DWV and BQCV RNA using tagged primers for RT-PCR. The DWV-A variant did not seem to be atypical compared to variants from other world regions. Due to the importance of M. colimana for the conservation of regional ecosystems as well as for its use for honey and cerumen production, the potential impact of multiplying honey bee viruses in M. colimana populations deserves further investigation.

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Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This study was funded by a Pinchin Family grant to EG and by a grant from the University of Guadalajara to JT.

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EG-N, NM and OM-M project planning and design; AM, JC-T, JM-T-G and FC-E collection of bees; NM and HG molecular analysis; NM data analysis; NM and EGN wrote the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Nuria Morfin.

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The authors declare that they have no potential conflict of interest in relation to the study in this paper.

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No permits were required to conduct the research. The research and was conducted under the supervision of researchers of the Honey Bee Research Centre, University of Guelph in Guelph, ON, Canada. Beekeeping practices were conducted in accordance with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) bio-safety regulations.

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Morfin, N., Gashout, H.A., Macías-Macías, J.O. et al. Detection, replication and quantification of deformed wing virus-A, deformed wing virus-B, and black queen cell virus in the endemic stingless bee, Melipona colimana, from Jalisco, Mexico. Int J Trop Insect Sci 41, 1285–1292 (2021).

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