Elevated virulence of an emerging viral genotype as a driver of honeybee loss.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Royal Society, The
© 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
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.
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.
Vol. 283, No. 1833, Article no. 20160811
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