Deformed wing virus: using reverse genetics to tackle unanswered questions about the most important viral pathogen of honey bees

Luke Woodford*, David J Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Deformed wing virus (DWV) is the most important viral pathogen of honey bees. It usually causes asymptomatic infections but, when vectored by the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor, it is responsible for the majority of overwintering colony losses globally. Although DWV was discovered four decades ago, research has been hampered by the absence of an in vitro cell culture system or the ability to culture pure stocks of the virus. The recent development of reverse genetic systems for DWV go some way to addressing these limitations. They will allow the investigation of specific questions about strain variation, host tropism and pathogenesis to be answered, and are already being exploited to study tissue tropism and replication in Varroa and non-Apis pollinators. Three areas neatly illustrate the advances possible with reverse genetic approaches; 1) strain variation and recombination, in which reverse genetics has highlighted similarities rather than differences between virus strains, 2) analysis of replication kinetics in both honey bees and Varroa, in studies which likely explain the near clonality of virus populations often reported and, 3) pathogen spillover to non-Apis pollinators, using genetically-tagged viruses to accurately monitor replication and infection.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfuaa070
Number of pages20
JournalFEMS Microbiology Reviews
Volume45
Issue number4
Early online date15 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases

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