Friday, September 30, 2022

New virus variant threatens the health of bees worldwide

A dangerous form of the deformed wing virus is on the rise around the world. The virus infects bees, causing their wings to atrophy and the animal to die. The new variant, which has already replaced the original strain of the virus in Europe, is spreading to other regions of the world and decimating entire bee colonies. This is shown in a study by an international research team led by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), which analyzed data on the spread of forms of the virus over the past 20 years. appeared in the paper International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife.

Deformed wing virus (DWV) is transmitted by the parasitic Varroa mite. “These mites not only transmit viruses between bees, they also eat bee tissue,” explains MLU’s bee researcher Professor Robert Paxton. He has been studying the spread of various pathogens in bees and wild bees for many years. “The deformed wing virus is certainly the biggest threat to bees,” Paxton says. The original strain of the virus (“DWV-A”) was discovered in Japan in the early 1980s, and the new variant “DWV-B” was first identified in 2001 in the Netherlands. “Our laboratory studies have shown that the new variant kills bees faster and more easily transmitted,” Paxton says.

The team, led by the zoologist, wanted to find out how widespread the new variant had become in nature. To find out, the researchers evaluated nearly 3,000 datasets from the database NCBI for honeybees, large earth bumblebees and varroa mites. The dataset contains clues about the genetic material of the virus. He also examined the first scientifically documented references to the “DWV-B” version for several countries. “Our analysis shows that the new version has already gained a foothold in Europe and it will be a matter of time before it becomes a dominant form around the world,” says Paxton. In the 2000s, the new variant was found mainly in Europe and Africa, the homeland of the bee. It was discovered in North and South America in the early 2010s and in Asia in 2015. The virus variant has now been detected in all major landmasses, with the exception of Australia. According to the researchers, this may be because the Varroa mite has not yet spread widely there.

Evidence of the virus has also been found in samples taken from Earth’s big bumblebees. “Whether the virus will have the same devastating consequences in bumblebees and other wild bees remains uncertain. So far, commercial bumblebee colonies infected with the virus are not dying at a significantly higher rate,” says Paxton. There are several ways to protect bees from Varroa mites and viruses: “The most important thing is to pay attention to cleanliness in the hive. Here, simple measures can help protect your colony not only from Varroa, but from wild bees.” Can also save. That no one else is watching,” Paxton concluded.

As pollinators of many wild and cultivated plants, bees play a major role in fruit yield and conservation of biodiversity. The loss of bee colonies is therefore viewed with concern by experts around the world.

Story Source:

material provided by Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg, Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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