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Experimental cross species transmission of a major viral pathogen in bees is predominantly from honeybees to bumblebees

Citation

Tehel, Anja; Streicher, Tabea; Tragust, Simon; Paxton, Rober J. (2022), Experimental cross species transmission of a major viral pathogen in bees is predominantly from honeybees to bumblebees, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.w0vt4b8t7

Abstract

Cross-species transmission of a pathogen from a reservoir to a recipient host species, spillover, can have major impacts on biodiversity, domestic species and human health. Deformed wing virus (DWV) is a panzootic RNA virus in honeybees that is causal in their elevated colony losses, and several correlative field studies have suggested spillover of DWV from managed honeybees to wild bee species such as bumblebees. Yet unequivocal demonstration of DWV spillover is lacking whilst spillback, the transmission of DWV from a recipient back to the reservoir host, is rarely considered. Here we show in fully crossed laboratory experiments that transmission of DWV (genotype A) from honeybees to bumblebees occurs readily, yet we neither detected viral transmission from bumblebees to honeybees nor onward transmission from experimentally infected to uninoculated bumblebees. Our results support the potential for viral spillover from honeybees to other bee species in the field when robbing resources from heterospecific nests or when visiting the same flowers. They also underscore the importance of studies on the virulence of DWV in wild bee species so as to evaluate viral impact on individual and population fitness as well as viral adaption to new host species.