Transmission of honey bee viruses through pollen

Problem Title

Transmission of honey bee viruses through pollen

Scientific Title

Pollen as a possible vector of Blackened Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) within and between Apis mellifera, Bombus. spp. and Peponapis populations

Student: 
Pratiksha Yalakkishettar
Major(s): 
Biology
Public Health Sciences
iCons Concentration: 
Biomedicine/Biosystems
iCons Class Year: 
Class of 2014
Executive Summary 

A number of RNA viruses negatively affect the health of European honey bees (Apis mellifera), which are important pollinators in the United States. We are investigating whether pollen may be a factor in the spread of these viruses both within A. mellifera populations and cross-species into Bumblebee species (Bombus spp).

Using an epidemiological approach, we are screening A. mellifera and Bombusspp. individuals from two farms in Connecticut for Blackened Queen Cell Virus (BQCV), collecting pollen from BQCV+ individuals, and then screening the pollen for BQCV as well. We are using RNA extraction, reverse transcriptase PCR, and electrophoresis to conduct diagnostics. We will also be sequencing BQCV found in A. mellifera and Bombus spp. as well as the pollen they are carrying. This will be to determine any genetic differences and allow for a phylogenetic analysis.

Finally, we will compare our exposure and outcome results from Apis and Bombus with exposure results from a sample of squash bees (Peponapis) to further explore the possibilities of pollen being a vector of honey bee viruses. Our results will help provide a more clear relationship between pollen and the spread of BQCV between A. mellifera populations and cross-species transmission to Bombus and Peponapisspecies.

Problem Keywords: 
honeybee viruses
pollen
Scientific Keywords: 
Blackened Queen Cell Virus
electrophoresis
reverse transcriptase PCR