Abstract: We investigated the effect of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor on the immunological and nutritional condition of honey bees, Apis mellifera, from the perspective of the individual bee and the colony. Pupae, newly-emerged adults and foraging adults were sampled from honey bee colonies at one site in S. Texas, USA. Varroa‑infested bees displayed elevated titer of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), suggestive of depressed capacity to limit viral replication. Expression of genes coding three anti-microbial peptides (defensin1, abaecin, hymenoptaecin) was either not significantly different between Varroa-infested and uninfested bees or was significantly elevated in Varroa-infested bees, varying with sampling date and bee developmental age. The effect of Varroa on nutritional indices of the bees was complex, with protein, triglyceride, glycogen and sugar levels strongly influenced by life-stage of the bee and individual colony. Protein content was depressed and free amino acid content elevated in Varroa-infested pupae, suggesting that protein synthesis, and consequently growth, may be limited in these insects. No simple relationship between the values of nutritional and immune-related indices was observed, and colony-scale effects were indicated by the reduced weight of pupae in colonies with high Varroa abundance, irrespective of whether the individual pupa bore Varroa.
Keywords: Apis mellifera; deformed wing virus; honey bee; nutritional response to parasite; Varroa mite
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Aronstein, K.A.; Saldivar, E.; Vega, R.; Westmiller, S.; Douglas, A.E. How Varroa Parasitism Affects the Immunological and Nutritional Status of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera. Insects 2012, 3, 601-615.
Aronstein KA, Saldivar E, Vega R, Westmiller S, Douglas AE. How Varroa Parasitism Affects the Immunological and Nutritional Status of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera. Insects. 2012; 3(3):601-615.
Aronstein, Katherine A.; Saldivar, Eduardo; Vega, Rodrigo; Westmiller, Stephanie; Douglas, Angela E. 2012. "How Varroa Parasitism Affects the Immunological and Nutritional Status of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera." Insects 3, no. 3: 601-615.