Metagenomics studies of viral diversity  

Honey bees host several viruses (more than 20 have been identified thus far) which have multiple sublethal effects, cause premature death, exacerbate the effects of other stressors (such as parasites and pesticides), and can lead to colony loss [1].   These viruses are easily transmitted to other bee species when infected and uninfected bees forage on the same flowers.  Thus, these viruses can freely circulate among multiple bee species in a particular region. However, the majority of studies on bee virology have focused on honey bee and wild bee populations in North America and Europe.  We have evaluated the distribution of parasites and pathogens in Kenyan honey bee populations, and examined signatures of selection associated with variation in ecological conditions and pathogen pressure in these populations [2, 3]. Recently we deployed a deep sequencing metagenomics approach to screen samples of honey bees and co-foraging non-Apis species collected by our collaborators from North America, central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand.  We found 31 previously unidentified viral species in our samples, and will next examine the distribution of these in the US honey bee population.

Current lab members: David Galbraith

Former lab members: Elina Lastro Niño, Alex McMenamin, Tracey Baumgarten

Collaborators (Penn State): Maryann Frazier, Jim Frazier, Zach Fuller, Webb Miller, Harland Patch, Joyce Sakomoto, Jim Tumlinson

Collaborators: Elluid Muli, Baldwyn Torto, Dan Masiga, Karen Kapheim, Axel Brockman, Sarah Kocher, Hong Thai Pham




 1. Brutscher LM, Daughenbaugh KF, Flenniken M: Antiviral Defense Mechanisms in Honey Bees. Current Opinion in Insect Science 2015.

2. Fuller ZL, Nino EL, Patch HM, Bedoya-Reina OC, Baumgarten T, Muli E, Mumoki F, Ratan A, McGraw J, Frazier M et al: Genome-wide analysis of signatures of selection in populations of African honey bees (Apis mellifera) using new web-based tools. BMC Genomics 2015, 16:518.

3.Muli E, Patch H, Frazier M, Frazier J, Torto B, Baumgarten T, Kilonzo J, Kimani JN, Mumoki F, Masiga D et al: Evaluation of the distribution and impacts of parasites, pathogens, and pesticides on honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations in East Africa. PLoS One 2014, 9(4):e94459.