Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nextera libraries aid in study of honey bee pathogens

Recently, honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations in North America and in Europe have been experiencing increased annual losses due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Population loss of honey bee colonies poses grave risks to agriculture, due to the importance of these insects in pollination of food crops. Since the effect of environmental pathogens on bees has been poorly studied, the causes of CCD have not beeen well characterized. Thus, it is necessary to build a database of bee pathogens to learn more about pathogen transmission and to determine their role in CCD.

To this end, Runckel et al. wanted to identify what constitutes an abnormal pathophysiological condition in a honey bee colony. Using the Nextera™ DNA Sample Prep Kit (Illumina®-compatible), the researchers developed pools of sequence data from 20 different monitor hives in an ultra-deep sequencing experiment, and these data were compared to sequence data from known bee pathogen types, including known viruses, Nosema sp., Crithidia mellificae, and bacteria. The authors state that theirs is the first U.S. honey bee pathogen monitoring study to report both comprehensive pathogen incidence and relative abundance of specific pathogens over time. Results from their molecular analysis pipeline (microarray, PCR, qPCR, ultra-deep sequencing) identified four novel RNA viruses, and provide a basis for future epidemiologic studies aimed at determining the causes of CCD.

ResearchBlogging.orgRunckel, C. et al. (2011). Temporal Analysis of the Honey Bee Microbiome Reveals Four Novel Viruses and Seasonal Prevalence of Known Viruses, Nosema, and Crithidia PLoS ONE, 6 (6) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020656

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