Bidirectional Transfer of RNAi between Honey Bee and Varroa destructor: Varroa Gene Silencing Reduces Varroa Population

By April 7, 2015RNAi, Workgroup 3

Author(s): Yael Garbian, Eyal Maori, Haim Kalev, Sharoni Shafir, Ilan Sela

Publication: PLOS One

Abstract: The mite Varroa destructor is an obligatory ectoparasite of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) and is one of the major threats to apiculture worldwide. We previously reported that honey bees fed on double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) with a sequence homologous to that of the Israeli acute paralysis virus are protected from the viral disease. Here we show that dsRNA ingested by bees is transferred to the Varroa mite and from mite on to a parasitized bee. This cross-species, reciprocal exchange of dsRNA between bee and Varroa engendered targeted gene silencing in the latter, and resulted in an over 60% decrease in the mite population. Thus, transfer of gene-silencing-triggering molecules between this invertebrate host and its ectoparasite could lead to a conceptually novel approach to Varroa control.

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