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      RT-PCR analysis of Deformed wing virus in honeybees (Apis mellifera) and mites (Varroa destructor).

      The Journal of General Virology
      Microbiology Society

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          Deformed wing virus (DWV) is a honeybee viral pathogen either persisting as an inapparent infection or resulting in wing deformity. The occurrence of deformity is associated with the transmission of DWV through Varroa destructor during pupal stages. Such infections with DWV add to the pathology of V. destructor and play a major role in colony collapse in the course of varroosis. Using a recently developed RT-PCR protocol for the detection of DWV, individual bees and mites originating from hives differing in Varroa infestation levels and the occurrence of crippled bees were analysed. It was found that 100 % of both crippled and asymptomatic bees were positive for DWV. However, a significant difference in the spatial distribution of DWV between asymptomatic and crippled bees could be demonstrated: when analysing head, thorax and abdomen of crippled bees, all body parts were always strongly positive for viral sequences. In contrast, for asymptomatic bees viral sequences could be detected in RNA extracted from the thorax and/or abdomen but never in RNA extracted from the head. DWV replication was demonstrated in almost all DWV-positive body parts of infected bees. Analysing individual mites for the presence of DWV revealed that the percentage of DWV-positive mites differed between mite populations. In addition, it was demonstrated that DWV was able to replicate in some but not all mites. Interestingly, virus replication in mites was correlated with wing deformity. DWV was also detected in the larval food, implicating that in addition to transmission by V. destructor DWV is also transmitted by feeding.

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