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Article alert: Three QTL in the honey bee Apis mellifera L. suppress reproduction of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor
21.04.2012

Ecol Evol. (2011) 1(4): 451458.
doi: 10.1002/ece3.17

Behrens D, Huang Q, Geßner C, Rosenkranz P, Frey E, Locke B, Moritz RF, Kraus FB.

Varroa destructor is a highly virulent ectoparasitic mite of the honey bee Apis mellifera and a major cause of colony losses for global apiculture. Typically, chemical treatment is essential to control the parasite population in the honey bee colony. Nevertheless a few honey bee populations survive mite infestation without any treatment. We used one such Varroa mite tolerant honey bee lineage from the island of Gotland, Sweden, to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling reduced mite reproduction. We crossed a queen from this tolerant population with drones from susceptible colonies to rear hybrid queens. Two hybrid queens were used to produce a mapping population of haploid drones. We discriminated drone pupae with and without mite reproduction, and screened the genome for potential QTL using a total of 216 heterozygous microsatellite markers in a bulk segregant analysis. Subsequently, we fine mapped three candidate target regions on chromosomes 4, 7, and 9. Although the individual effect of these three QTL was found to be relatively small, the set of all three had significant impact on suppression of V. destructor reproduction by epistasis. Although it is in principle possible to use these loci for marker-assisted selection, the strong epistatic effects between the three loci complicate selective breeding programs with the Gotland Varroa tolerant honey bee stock.


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