Elevated virulence of an emerging viral genotype as a driver of honeybee loss Journal Article

Author(s): McMahon, Dino P; Natsopoulou, Myrsini E; Doublet, Vincent; Fürst, Matthias A; Weging, Silvio; Brown, Mark J; Gogol-Döring, Andreas; Paxton, Robert J
Article Title: Elevated virulence of an emerging viral genotype as a driver of honeybee loss
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) have contributed significantly to the current biodiversity crisis, leading to widespread epidemics and population loss. Owing to genetic variation in pathogen virulence, a complete understanding of species decline requires the accurate identification and characterization of EIDs. We explore this issue in the Western honeybee, where increasing mortality of populations in the Northern Hemisphere has caused major concern. Specifically, we investigate the importance of genetic identity of the main suspect in mortality, deformed wing virus (DWV), in driving honeybee loss. Using laboratory experiments and a systematic field survey, we demonstrate that an emerging DWV genotype (DWV-B) is more virulent than the established DWV genotype (DWV-A) and is widespread in the landscape. Furthermore, we show in a simple model that colonies infected with DWV-B collapse sooner than colonies infected with DWV-A. We also identify potential for rapid DWV evolution by revealing extensive genome-wide recombination in vivo. The emergence of DWV-B in naive honeybee populations, including via recombination with DWV-A, could be of significant ecological and economic importance. Our findings emphasize that knowledge of pathogen genetic identity and diversity is critical to understanding drivers of species decline.
Keywords: virulence; Decline; Emerging infectious disease; Pollinator
Journal Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences
Volume: 283
Issue 1833
ISSN: 0962-8452
Publisher: Royal Society, The  
Date Published: 2016-06-29
Start Page: Article number: 20160811
Copyright Statement: CC BY 4.0
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0811
Notes: This work was supported by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (Germany): Fit Bee project (grant 511-06.01-28-1-71.007-10), the EU: BeeDoc (grant 244956), iDiv (2013 NGS-Fast Track grant W47004118) and the Insect Pollinators Initiative (IPI grant BB/I000100/1 and BB/I000151/1). The IPI is funded jointly by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust, under the Living with Environmental Change Partnership. We thank A. Abrahams, M. Husemann and A. Soro for support in obtaining V. destructor -free honeybees; and BBKA President D. Aston for access to records of colony overwinter 2011–2012 mortality in the UK. We also thank the anonymous refe- rees and Stephen Martin for comments that led to substantial improvement of the manuscript.
Open access: yes (OA journal)