Summary from the authors: A gene for resistance to the Varroa mite (Acari) in honey bee (Apis mellifera) pupae by Benjamin Conlon

Link to paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mec.15080

The parasitic mite Varroa destructor can devastate honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations by reproducing in the pupal cells where young bees develop. Without human intervention, this typically leads to the death of the honey bee colony. Some colonies, however, are able to resist Varroa by inhibiting it’s reproduction. To further our understanding of the relationship between the honey bee host and its parasite, we studied one of these colonies where half of the male (drone) pupae exhibited resistance to Varroa.

Varroa-resistant honey bees from Toulouse, France. Photo by Benjamin Conlon

By screening the genomes of resistant and susceptible pupae from this colony, we identified a resistance-linked gene in the ecdysone pathway. Ecdysone is a hormone which honey bees produce during pupation. Due to its fascinating dependency on the honey bees, Varroa requires this hormone to reproduce, but lacks the ability to produce this hormone itself. This raises the possibility that Varroa is co-opting host hormones to time and initiate its own reproduction. Thus, changes in this pathway could prevent Varroa from reproducing. These results highlight the close links between host and parasite and could provide new avenues for Varroa control in honey bees.

Conlon, B. H., Aurori, A., Giurgiu, A. I., Kefuss, J., Dezmirean, D. S., Moritz, R. F., & Routtu, J. (2019). A gene for resistance to the Varroa mite (Acari) in honey bee (Apis mellifera) pupae. Molecular Ecology. 2019. 28-12. 2958-2966

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s