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Direct effect of acaricides on pathogen loads and gene expression levels of honey bee Apis mellifera

Boncristiani, Humberto, Underwood, Robyn, Schwarz, Ryan, Evans, Jay D., Pettis, Jeffery, van Engelsdorp, Dennis
Journal of insect physiology 2012 pp. 1
Apis mellifera, Varroa destructor, amitraz, apiculture, bee diseases, bee viruses, coumaphos, formic acid, gene expression, genes, honey bees, immune system, immunity, metabolic detoxification, mites, mitogen-activated protein kinase, ontogeny, parasites, parasitism, thymol
The effect of using acaricides to control varroa mites has long been a concern to the beekeeping industry due to unintended negative impacts on honey bee health. Irregular ontogenesis, suppression of immune defenses, and impairment of normal behavior have been linked to pesticide use. External stressors, including parasites and the pathogens they vector, can confound studies on the effects of pesticides on the metabolism of honey bees. This is the case of Varroa destructor, a mite that negatively affects honey bee health on many levels, from direct parasitism, which diminishes honey bee productivity, to vectoring and/or activating other pathogens, including many viruses. Here we present a gene expression profile comprising genes acting on diverse metabolic levels (detoxification, immunity, and development) in a honey bee population that lacks the influence of varroa mites. We present data for hives treated with five different acaricides; Apiguard (thymol), Apistan (tau-fluvalinate), Checkmite (coumaphos), Miteaway(formic acid) and ApiVar (amitraz). The results indicate that thymol, coumaphos and formic acid are able to alter some metabolic responses. These include detoxification gene expression pathways, components of the immune system responsible for cellular response and the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway, and developmental genes. These could potentially interfere with the health of individual honey bees and entire colonies.