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Metagenomics studies of viral diversity  

Honey bees host several viruses 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 [4, 5].  We found sequences corresponding to 27 previously unidentified viral species in our samples.  We are currently examining the distribution of these in the US honey bee population.  Additionally, we are investigating the role of transmission route and time on viral populations.


Current lab members: Allyson Ray

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

Collaborators (Penn State): Jay Evans, Nor Chejanovsky, Robert Paxton

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




 1.  Flenniken, M.L. and C.M. Grozinger. “Bee Viruses: Ecology, Pathogenicity, and Impacts”.  Annual Review of Entomology (in review).

 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.

4. Levin, S., Galbraith, D., Sela, N., Erez, T., Grozinger, C.M., and N. Chejanovsky.  “Presence of Apis rhabdovirus-1 in populations of pollinators and their parasites from two continents” Frontiers in Microbiology 2017

5. Galbraith, D. A., Z. L. Fuller, A. Brockman, M. Frazier, M. W. Gikungu, K. M. Kapheim, J. T. Kerby, S. D. Kocher, O. Losyev, E. Muli, H. M. Patch, J. M. Sakamoto, S. Stanley, A. D. Vaudo and C. M. Grozinger. "Investigating the viral ecology of global bee communities with high-throughput metagenomics " Scientific Reports 2018 Article #8879.