Examining the role of foraging and malvolio in host-finding behavior in the honey bee parasite, Varroa destructor (Anderson & Trueman)

Ana R. Cabrera, Paul D. Shirk, Peter E.A. Teal, Christina M. Grozinger, Jay D. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


When a female varroa mite, Varroa destructor (Anderson & Trueman), invades a honey bee brood cell, the physiology rapidly changes from feeding phoretic to reproductive. Changes in foraging and malvolio transcript levels in the brain have been associated with modulated intra-specific food searching behaviors in insects and other invertebrates. Transcription profiles for both genes were examined during and immediately following brood cell invasion to assess their role as potential control elements. Vdfor and Vdmvl transcripts were found in all organs of varroa mites with the highest Vdfor transcript levels in ovary-lyrate organs and the highest Vdmvl in Malpighian tubules. Changes in transcript levels of Vdfor and Vdmvl in synganglia were not associated with the cell invasion process, remaining comparable between early reproductive mites (collected from the pre-capping brood cells) and phoretic mites. However, Vdfor and Vdmvl transcript levels were lowered by 37 and 53%, respectively, in synganglia from reproductive mites compared to early reproductive mites, but not significantly different to levels in synganglia from phoretic mites. On the other hand, in whole body preparations the Vdfor and Vdmvl had significantly higher levels of transcript in reproductive mites compared to phoretic and early reproductive, mainly due to the presence of both transcripts accumulating in the eggs carried by the ovipositing mite. Varroa mites are a critical component for honey bee population decline and finding varroa mite genes associated with brood cell invasion, reproduction, ion balance and other physiological processes will facilitate development of novel control avenues for this honey bee parasite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-75
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Insect Science


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