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A Comparison of Deformed Wing Virus in Deformed and Asymptomatic Honey Bees

School of Environment and Life Sciences, The University of Salford, Manchester M5 4WT, UK
Viral Ecology, Marine Biological Association, Plymouth PL7 5BU, UK
School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AJ, UK
Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Centro de Ciências Agrárias, Ambientais e Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia, Rua Rui Barbosa, 710 Centro, Cruz Das AlmasBahia State 44380-000, Brazil
VISAVET, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Complutense University de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Universidad Compultense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Steven Cook and Jay Daniel Evans
Insects 2017, 8(1), 28;
Received: 13 September 2016 / Revised: 7 February 2017 / Accepted: 2 March 2017 / Published: 7 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interactions Among Threats to Honeybee Health)
PDF [1516 KB, uploaded 7 March 2017]


Deformed wing virus (DWV) in association with Varroa destructor is currently attributed to being responsible for colony collapse in the western honey bee (Apis mellifera). The appearance of deformed individuals within an infested colony has long been associated with colony losses. However, it is unknown why only a fraction of DWV positive bees develop deformed wings. This study concerns two small studies comparing deformed and non-deformed bees. In Brazil, asymptomatic bees (no wing deformity) that had been parasitised by Varroa as pupae had higher DWV loads than non-parasitised bees. However, we found no greater bilateral asymmetry in wing morphology due to DWV titres or parasitisation. As expected, using RT-qPCR, deformed bees were found to contain the highest viral loads. In a separate study, next generation sequencing (NGS) was applied to compare the entire DWV genomes from paired symptomatic and asymptomatic bees from three colonies on two different Hawaiian islands. This revealed no consistent differences between DWV genomes from deformed or asymptomatic bees, with the greatest variation seen between locations, not phenotypes. All samples, except one, were dominated by DWV type A. This small-scale study suggests that there is no unique genetic variant associated with wing deformity; but that many DWV variants have the potential to cause deformity. View Full-Text
Keywords: deformed wing virus; honeybee; Varroa; next generation sequencing; RTPCR deformed wing virus; honeybee; Varroa; next generation sequencing; RTPCR

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Brettell, L.E.; Mordecai, G.J.; Schroeder, D.C.; Jones, I.M.; Da Silva, J.R.; Vicente-Rubiano, M.; Martin, S.J. A Comparison of Deformed Wing Virus in Deformed and Asymptomatic Honey Bees. Insects 2017, 8, 28.

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