Publication details

The effect of Varroa destructor infection on honey bee haemocytes



Year of publication 2020
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Description Honey bees (Apis mellifera), one of the most important pollinators in our ecosystem, are still struggling with significant decline in many parts of the world. This is caused by combination of many factors, where pathogens are one of the main culprits. We focused on parasitic mite Varroa destructor which is well known for its ability to infect both honey bee larvae and workers, transmit viruses amplifying their negative impact; and if not treated, bringing the hive to the collapse in just one year. Honey bees are able to combat this infection through their immune response, which can be divided into three types: humoral, cellular and social immunity. Many studies described how behavioral mechanisms from social immunity and elevated antimicrobial substances in the haemolymph are fighting Varroa infection, but not so much is known about the effect of Varroa on the cellular part of the insect immunity – the haemocytes. These are specialised immune cells capable to perform defense responses like phagocytosis, nodulation and encapsulation. There are many types of haemocytes in different insect species, for instance plasmatocytes, granulocytes, lamellocytes, oenocytes and many others. We use flow cytometry with the help of various fluorescent markers to distinguish the elements present in the haemolymph including haemocytes. This method allows us to observe changes in haemocyte counts, their viability and activity. Our analyses were performed through the year 2019 to monitor the conditions of the hives and determine their health status. We also use confocal microscopy to compare honey bee haemocytes with characteristics of other species. Our results confirm that in honey bee haemolymph we can distinguish living haemocytes with intact membrane, permeabilised cells and not well-defined cellular debris. It remains to confirm if there is a significant difference between healthy and Varroa-infected bees.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info