UH Manoa researcher provides global perspective on honeybee viruses

February 26, 2016

From: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

The global decline of honeybee populations has spurred a number of researchers to examine the role played by the parasitic varroa mite and the deadly Deformed Wing Virus it transmits. In early February a large-scale research article (Wilfert et al.) was published in the prestigious journal Science. This study provides insight on the geographical origin and evolutionary history of the mite and the virus. Dr. Ethel Villalobos, a bee researcher of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, was requested by the editors of Science to write an accompanying piece to this article, which was published in the same issue in a section called “Perspectives.”

Dr. Villalobos’ article, titled “The mite that jumped, the bee that traveled, and the disease that followed,” provides context to the study by examining, in lay terms, the historical movement of managed European honeybee colonies out of their native range. The Perspectives article examines how the human transport of managed hives had unforeseen repercussions with respect to bee health.  The European bee was exposed to new environments and was placed in contact with the Asian honeybee and its parasites. One parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, “jumped” host species to the European bee and became a vector of previously mild viral diseases, in particular the DWV, which is now amplified in virulence due to mite transmission.


Free download access to the Science article may be found on the project’s website at http://www.uhbeeproject.com/news/science_journal-dwv_spread-emv.html.

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