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J Virol. 2006 Dec;80(23):11528-38. Epub 2006 Sep 13.

Prevalence and phylogeny of Kakugo virus, a novel insect picorna-like virus that infects the honeybee (Apis mellifera L.), under various colony conditions.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


We previously identified a novel insect picorna-like virus, termed Kakugo virus (KV), from the brains of aggressive worker honeybees that had counterattacked a giant hornet. To survey the prevalence of KV in worker populations engaged in various labors, we quantified KV genomic RNA. KV was detected specifically from aggressive workers in some colonies, while it was also detected from other worker populations in other colonies where the amount of KV detected in the workers was relatively high, suggesting that KV can infect various worker populations in the honeybee colonies. To investigate whether the KV strains detected were identical, phylogenetic analysis was performed. There was less than a 2% difference in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) sequences between KV strains from aggressive workers and those from other worker populations, suggesting that all of the viruses detected were virtually the same KV. We also found that some of the KV-infected colonies were parasitized by Varroa mites, and the sequences of the KV strains detected from the mites were the same as those detected from the workers of the same colonies, suggesting that the mites mediate KV prevalence in the honeybee colonies. KV strains had approximately 6% and 15% sequence differences in the RdRp region from deformed wing virus and Varroa destructor virus 1, respectively, suggesting that KV represents a viral strain closely related to, but distinct from, these two viruses.

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