Invasive ants carry novel viruses in their new range and form reservoirs for a honeybee pathogen

Alexandra Sébastien, Philip J. Lester, Richard J. Hall, Jing Wang, Nicole E. Moore, Monica A.M. Gruber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


When exotic animal species invade newenvironments they also bring an often unknown microbial diversity, including pathogens. We describe a novel and widely distributed virus in one of the most globally widespread, abundant and damaging invasive ants (Argentine ants, Linepithema humile). The Linepithema humile virus 1 is a dicistrovirus, a viral family including species known to cause widespread arthropod disease. It was detected in samples from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Argentine ants in New Zealand were also infected with a strain of Deformed wing virus common to local hymenopteran species, which is a major pathogen widely associated with honeybee mortality. Evidence for active replication of viral RNA was apparent for both viruses.Our results suggest co-introduction and exchange of pathogens within local hymenopteran communities. These viral species may contribute to the collapse of Argentine ant populations and offer new options for the control of a globally widespread invader.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20150610
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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