Free Access
Volume 38, Number 5, September-October 2007
Page(s) 426 - 435
Published online 11 September 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 426-435
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007026

Viral load estimation in asymptomatic honey bee colonies using the quantitative RT-PCR technique

Laurent Gauthiera, Diana Tentchevab, Magali Tournairea, Benjamin Dainatb, François Cousseransb, Marc Edouard Colina and Max Bergoinb

a  Laboratoire de Pathovigilance et de Développement Apicole, Montpellier SupAgro, 900 rue Jean François Breton, 34090 Montpellier, France
b  Laboratoire de Biologie Intégrative et Virologie des Insectes, UMR 1231, Université Montpellier II, place Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier, France

(Received 29 January 2007 - Accepted 4 May 2007 - Published online 11 September 2007)

Abstract - Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies are subjected to many persistent viral infections that do not exhibit clinical signs. The identification of criteria that could identify persistent or latent infections in bee colonies is a challenging task for field investigators and beekeepers. With this aim in view, we developed a molecular method to estimate the viral loads for six different RNA viruses in bee and mite individuals collected from seemingly healthy colonies (360 colonies). The data showed very large viral titres in some samples (>109 copies per bee or mite). Discrepancies between adults and pupae viral RNA loads and, in several instances, significant seasonal variations among viruses were observed. The high titres of some RNA viruses recorded in mites confirm that Varroa destructor could promote viral infections in colonies.

Key words: Apis mellifera / Varroa destructor / quantitative PCR / viral load

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007