Submitted to: Molecular Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 3, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Honey bees in the United States are strongly impacted by the parasitic mite Varroa jacobsoni. This mite, which feeds primarily on honey bee larvae, reduces adult weights and is implicated in honey bee losses in much of the world. Efforts to control Varroa depend on knowing the dispersal rates of mites from one colony to the next, and across bee yards. We have found genetic markers which will give us the ability to estimate mite dispersal. This information can be used by beekeepers in the design of integrated pest management programs, and in predicting the spread of mites. In addition, bee inspectors can use information on mite dispersal to follow mite movement at the local and state levels. Such measurements will help to maintain the vitality of the U.S. beekeeping industry.
Parasitic honey bee mites are widespread on several continents and represent the primary threat to honey bee populations. An understanding of dispersal patterns by mites will aid beekeepers as they plan their mite control programs. Microsatellite DNA loci, highly polymorphis DNA markers, provide an effective means of estimating mite population genetic characters. This paper represents the first successful search for microsatellite loci in Varroa. Loci were isolated from a partial genomic library established from mites collected at the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, MD. Of 13 loci screened, nine were polymorphic either in this poopulation or in mites collected from sites in South Africa and Russia. Three loci, VJ221, VJ275 and VJ296, showed several alleles in each of the tested populations. These loci can now be used for more detailed investigations of genetic structure in V. jacobsoni.