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Journal Article (Refereed)
July 2012

Global honeybee viral landscape altered by a parasitic mite

Martin, S 2012, 'Global honeybee viral landscape altered by a parasitic mite', Science.


Emerging diseases are among the greatest threats to honeybees. Unfortunately where and when an emerging disease will appear is almost impossible to predict. The arrival of the parasitic Varroa mite into the Hawaiian honeybee population allowed us to investigate changes in the prevalence, load and strain diversity of honeybee viruses. The mite increased the prevalence of a single viral species, deformed wing virus (DWV), from ~10% to 100% within honeybee populations, which was accompanied by a million-fold increase in viral titre and massive reduction in DWV diversity, leading to the predominance of a single DWV strain. Therefore, the global spread of Varroa has selected DWV variants that have emerged to become one of the most widely-distributed and contagious insect viruses on the planet.


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