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Parasitology. 2010 May;137(6):967-73. doi: 10.1017/S0031182009991867. Epub 2010 Feb 15.

Selection of Apis mellifera workers by the parasitic mite Varroa destructor using host cuticular hydrocarbons.

Author information

  • 1Dipartimento di Biologia e Protezione delle Piante, Universit√† degli Studi di Udine Via delle Scienze, 208 Udine, Italy. fabio.delpiccolo@uniud.it

Abstract

The parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, is the most important threat for apiculture in most bee-keeping areas of the world. The mite is carried to the bee brood cell, where it reproduces, by a nurse bee; therefore the selection of the bee stage by the parasite could influence its reproductive success. This study investigates the role of the cuticular hydrocarbons of the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) in host-selection by the mite. Preliminary laboratory bioassays confirmed the preference of the varroa mite for nurse bees over pollen foragers. GC-MS analysis of nurse and pollen bees revealed differences in the cuticular hydrocarbons of the two stages; in particular, it appeared that pollen bees have more (Z)-8-heptadecene than nurse bees. Laboratory experiments showed that treatment of nurse bees with 100 ng of the pure compound makes them repellent to the varroa mite. These results suggest that the mite can exploit the differences in the cuticular composition of its host for a refined selection that allows it to reach a brood cell and start reproduction. The biological activity of the alkene encourages further investigations for the development of novel control techniques based on this compound.

PMID:
20152062
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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