Evidence for and against deformed wing virus spillover from honey bees to bumble bees: a reverse genetic analysis

Olesya Nikolaevna Gusachenko, Luke Woodford, Katharin Balbirnie-Cumming, Eugene V. Ryabov, David John Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Deformed wing virus (DWV) is a persistent pathogen of European honey bees and the major contributor to overwintering colony losses. The prevalence of DWV in honey bees has led to significant concerns about spillover of the virus to other pollinating species. Bumble bees are both a major group of wild and commercially-reared pollinators. Several studies have reported pathogen spillover of DWV from honey bees to bumble bees, but evidence of a sustained viral infection characterized by virus replication and accumulation has yet to be demonstrated. Here we investigate the infectivity and transmission of DWV in bumble bees using the buff-tailed bumble bee Bombus terrestris as a model. We apply a reverse genetics approach combined with controlled laboratory conditions to detect and monitor DWV infection. A novel reverse genetics system for three representative DWV variants, including the two master variants of DWV - type A and B - was used. Our results directly confirm DWV replication in bumble bees but also demonstrate striking resistance to infection by certain transmission routes. Bumble bees may support DWV replication but it is not clear how infection could occur under natural environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16847
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2020


  • Viral pathogenesis
  • Viral reservoirs
  • Viral transmission


Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence for and against deformed wing virus spillover from honey bees to bumble bees: a reverse genetic analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this