Honeybee decline linked to deadly virus spread by mites
The large-scale death of honeybees, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder, has been stumping scientists for years, but researchers at the University of Sheffield have now discovered that a parasitic mite which carries a wing-deforming virus exponentially increases the spread of the pathogen.
The study, published in the journal Science, showed how the Varroa mite caused Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) – a known viral pathogen – to increase its frequency among honey bee colonies from 10 per cent to 100 per cent, resulting in a million-fold increase in the number of virus parasites affecting each honeybee and leaving one dominant killer strain of the virus.
The mites act as a “viral reservoir and incubator,” and inject the virus directly into the bees when they feed on their blood, “bypassing conventional, established oral and sexual routes of transmission,” according to Agence-France Presse.
“Deformed Wing Virus is naturally transmitted in bees through feeding or sex but the mites change the disease so it becomes more deadly, shortening the bees’ lives,” the researchers said. By entering the bee’s bloodstream directly, the virus bypasses its natural immune defenses.
By Chelsea Whyte – International Science Times:
For additional articles, please see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/07/honey-bees-virus-varrora-destructor-mites