Peter Neumann, Orlando Yañez
In Europe, China and the USA, beekeepers are being regularly confronted with severe inexplicable and sudden colony losses, with colonies exhibiting diverse symptoms (incl. CCD = Colony Collapse Disorder). Interactions between the ubiquitous ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor and mite-transmitted viruses are most likely key factors. However, although it is known that maternally-inherited, facultative bacterial endosymbionts can significantly interfere with both viral transmission and virulence in arthropods, they have so far been neglected in this context. The aim of this SNF-supported project was therefore to evaluate the potential role of endosymbionts for honey bee colony losses. It focussed on the relationships between honey bee endosymbionts and the deformed wing virus as a model system, a potential key to our understanding of major honey bee colony losses.