RNAseq analysis reveals virus diversity within hawaiian apiary insect communities

Laura E. Brettell, Declan C. Schroeder, Stephen J. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Deformed wing virus (DWV) is the most abundant viral pathogen of honey bees and has been associated with large-scale colony losses. DWV and other bee-associated RNA viruses are generalists capable of infecting diverse hosts. Here, we used RNAseq analysis to test the hypothesis that due to the frequency of interactions, a range of apiary pest species would become infected with DWV and/or other honey bee-associated viruses. We confirmed that DWV-A was the most prevalent virus in the apiary, with genetically similar sequences circulating in the apiary pests, suggesting frequent inter-species transmission. In addition, different proportions of the three DWV master variants as indicated by BLAST analysis and genome coverage plots revealed interesting DWV-species groupings. We also observed that new genomic recombinants were formed by the DWV master variants, which are likely adapted to replicate in different host species. Species groupings also applied when considering other viruses, many of which were widespread in the apiaries. In social wasps, samples were grouped further by site, which potentially also influenced viral load. Thus, the apiary invertebrate community has the potential to act as reservoirs of honey bee-associated viruses, highlighting the importance of considering the wider community in the apiary when considering honey bee health. View Full-Text

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number397
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Apiary pests
  • Deformed wing virus
  • Honey bees
  • Quasispecies
  • RNAseq
  • Recombination


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