CATCH THE BUZZ – New DNA Virus Discovered in Honey Bees

December 2, 2015

From: Bee Culture

Diversity in a honey bee pathogen: first report of a third master variant of the Deformed Wing Virus quasispecies


Gideon J Mordecai1,2, Lena Wilfert3, Stephen J Martin4, Ian M Jones2 and Declan C Schroeder1

  1. 1Viral Ecology, Marine Biological Association, Plymouth, UK
  2. 2School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  3. 3Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, UK
  4. 4School of Environment and Life Sciences, The University of Salford, Manchester, UK

Correspondence: DC Schroeder, Viral Ecology, Marine Biological Association, Citadel Hill, Plymouth PL1 2PB, UK. E-mail:

Received 30 June 2015; Revised 14 August 2015; Accepted 21 August 2015 Advance online publication 17 November 2015


Treatment of emerging RNA viruses is hampered by the high mutation and replication rates that enable these viruses to operate as a quasispecies. Declining honey bee populations have been attributed to the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor and its affiliation with Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). In the current study we use next-generation sequencing to investigate the DWV quasispecies in an apiary known to suffer from overwintering colony losses. We show that the DWV species complex is made up of three master variants. Our results indicate that a new DWV Type C variant is distinct from the previously described types A and B, but together they form a distinct clade compared with other members of the Iflaviridae. The molecular clock estimation predicts that Type C diverged from the other variants ~319 years ago. The discovery of a new master variant of DWV has important implications for the positive identification of the true pathogen within global honey bee populations.

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