Bee research

ELISA-systems for the detection of ABPV, SBV und DWV
Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are of great economically importance due to their activities as pollinators in crop production. The loss of pollination service caused by colony collapses in apiaries is a problem for the agricultural industry worldwide. Viral diseases are believed to play a central role in large-scale colony collapses during hibernation along with an infection with ectoparasitic varroa mites (Varroa destructor). Studies from several countries revealed a direct impact of Iflaviruses (SBV, DWV) and Dicistroviruses (ABPV) on the demise of bee colonies. This project aims at the generation of monoclonal antibodies directed against the structural proteins of bee viruses to study the pathogenesis of viral diseases in honeybees. Furthermore, the newly generated reagents would be valuable tools for diagnosis and should provide reliable and cost-efficient test systems compared to established RT-PCR approaches.  
DWV pathogenesis
A decline of fitness and health of the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) has been documented in all European countries in the last decades. Today, the survival of honeybee colonies depends on human supervision and care. It has been presumed that the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, which was introduced to Austria in the early 1980s, is the major cause of colony destruction. The mites serve as a vector for viral pathogens and colony collapse is almost always associated with virus infections. Deformed wing virus (DWV), a picornavirus-like agent, is responsible for most clinical symptoms in diseased colonies. The aim of this proposal is the unraveling of pathogenesis and virulence of DWV in association with varroosis. Following the hypothesis that the introduction of Varroa mites enhanced DWV virulence, the investigation is focused on molecular changes in the virus. It is planned to isolate and characterize DWV strains in detail with regard to replication and protein expression levels, cytopathogenic potential, host range, and host cell tropism. Prerequisite for the planned experiments are cell culture systems that allow the use of classical virology techniques. The study will elucidate whether an adaption to vector borne transmission might generate a novel pathotype and clarify the underlying mechanisms of DWV pathogenesis.