Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Genetic strain diversity of multi-host RNA viruses that infect a wide range of pollinators and associates is shaped by geographic origins.

Abstract

Emerging viruses have caused concerns about pollinator population declines, as multi-host RNA viruses may pose a health threat to pollinators and associated arthropods. In order to understand the ecology and impact these viruses have, we studied their host range and determined to what extent host and spatial variation affect strain diversity. Firstly, we used RT-PCR to screen pollinators and associates, including honey bees (Apis mellifera) and invasive Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), for virus presence and replication. We tested for the black queen cell virus (BQCV), deformed wing virus (DWV), and Kashmir bee virus (KBV) that were initially detected in bees, and the two recently discovered Linepithema humile bunya-like virus 1 (LhuBLV1) and Moku virus (MKV). DWV, KBV, and MKV were detected and replicated in a wide range of hosts and commonly co-infected hymenopterans. Secondly, we placed KBV and DWV in a global phylogeny with sequences from various countries and hosts to determine the association of geographic origin and host with shared ancestry. Both phylogenies showed strong geographic rather than host-specific clustering, suggesting frequent inter-species virus transmission. Transmission routes between hosts are largely unknown. Nonetheless, avoiding the introduction of non-native species and diseased pollinators appears important to limit spill overs and disease emergence.