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Authors: Brigitta Zana, Lili Geiger, Anett Kepner, Fanni Földes, Péter Urbán, Róbert Herczeg, Gábor Kemenesi and Ferenc Jakab

Western honey bees (Apis mellifera) are important pollinators in the ecosystem and also play a crucial economic role in the honey industry. During the last decades, a continuous decay was registered in honey bee populations worldwide, including Hungary. In our study, we used metagenomic approaches and conventional PCR screening on healthy and winter mortality affected colonies from multiple sites in Hungary. The major goal was to discover presumed bee pathogens with viral metagenomic experiments and gain prevalence and distribution data by targeted PCR screening. We examined 664 honey bee samples that had been collected during winter mortality from three seemingly healthy colonies and from one colony infested heavily by the parasitic mite Varroa destructor in 2016 and 2017. The subsequent PCR screening of honey bee samples revealed the abundant presence of Apis mellifera filamentous virus (AmFV) for the first time in Central Europe. Based on phylogeny reconstruction, the newly-detected virus was found to be most closely related to a Chinese AmFV strain. More sequence data from multiple countries would be needed for studying the detailed phylogeographical patterns and worldwide spreading process of AmFV. Here we report the prevalent presence of this virus in Hungarian honey bee colonies.

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