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Evaluation of Suppressed Mite Reproduction (SMR) Reveals Potential for Varroa Resistance in European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.)
Open AccessArticle

Evaluation of Traits for the Selection of Apis Mellifera for Resistance against Varroa Destructor

1
Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft Hessen, Bee Institute, Erlenstrasse 9, 35274 Kirchhain, Germany
2
Faculty of Agrobiotechnical Sciences Osijek, University of Osijek, Vladimira Preloga 1, 31000 Osijek, Croatia
3
Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), Division of Livestock Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Straße 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria
4
Institute for Bee Research, Friedrich-Engels-Str. 32, 16540 Hohen Neuendorf, Germany
5
Animal Breeding and Genomics, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(9), 618; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090618
Received: 27 July 2020 / Revised: 28 August 2020 / Accepted: 7 September 2020 / Published: 10 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Honeybee Breeding)
Infestation with the parasitic mite Varroa destructor is a serious cause of bee colony (Apis mellifera) losses on a global level. However, the presence of untreated survivor populations in many different regions indicates that selection for resistance might lead to a long-term solution. The success of selection depends on suitable testing criteria. To be effective, results must show repeatable effects of the individual genotype and correlate with the breeding goal. As colony survival is difficult to measure, selective breeding for Varroa resistance can be based on differences in mite infestation and specific behavioral traits. In this paper we look into different definitions of mite infestation and link these with brood hygiene (pin test), brood recapping and suppressed mite reproduction (SMR). Due to the large dataset (489 colonies) from Austria, Croatia and Germany and four seasons (2016–2019), our study arrogates high representability. Repeatability analysis depicts different infestation parameters, brood hygiene and recapping data as characteristic colony traits while SMR results are very strongly influenced by environmental effects. Brood hygiene and recapping data correlate weakly but significantly with mite infestation. We therefore recommend combining them with estimates of mite population increase and brood infestation for an effective selection on resistance.
Infestation with Varroa destructor is a serious cause of bee colony (Apis mellifera) losses on a global level. However, the presence of untreated survivor populations in many different regions supports the idea that selection for resistance can be successful. As colony survival is difficult or impossible to measure, differences in mite infestation levels and tests for specific behavioral traits are used for selective breeding for Varroa resistance. In this paper we looked into different definitions of mite infestation and linked these with brood hygiene (pin test), brood recapping and suppressed mite reproduction. We based our analyses on datasets of Apis mellifera carnica from three countries: Austria (147 records), Croatia (135) and Germany (207). We concluded that bee infestation in summer, adjusted for the level of natural mite fall in spring, is a suitable trait in the breeding objective, and also suggested including brood infestation rate and the increase rate of bee infestation in summer. Repeatability for bee infestation rate was about 0.55, for cells opened in pin test about 0.33, for recapping 0.35 and for suppressed mite reproduction (SMR) virtually zero. Although in most cases we observed correlations with the expected sign between infestation parameters and behavioral traits, the values were generally low (<0.2) and often not significantly different from zero. View Full-Text
Keywords: Varroa resistance; mite infestation; brood infestation; pin test; suppressed mite reproduction (SMR); brood recapping; repeatability; performance test; breeding objective Varroa resistance; mite infestation; brood infestation; pin test; suppressed mite reproduction (SMR); brood recapping; repeatability; performance test; breeding objective
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MDPI and ACS Style

Büchler, R.; Kovačić, M.; Buchegger, M.; Puškadija, Z.; Hoppe, A.; Brascamp, E.W. Evaluation of Traits for the Selection of Apis Mellifera for Resistance against Varroa Destructor. Insects 2020, 11, 618.

AMA Style

Büchler R, Kovačić M, Buchegger M, Puškadija Z, Hoppe A, Brascamp EW. Evaluation of Traits for the Selection of Apis Mellifera for Resistance against Varroa Destructor. Insects. 2020; 11(9):618.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Büchler, Ralph; Kovačić, Marin; Buchegger, Martin; Puškadija, Zlatko; Hoppe, Andreas; Brascamp, Evert W. 2020. "Evaluation of Traits for the Selection of Apis Mellifera for Resistance against Varroa Destructor" Insects 11, no. 9: 618.

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