Transcriptome profiling of the honeybee parasite Varroa destructor provides new biological insights into the mite adult life cycle

Abstract : BACKGROUND: The parasite Varroa destructor represents a significant threat to honeybee colonies. Indeed, development of Varroa infestation within colonies, if left untreated, often leads to the death of the colony. Although its impact on bees has been extensively studied, less is known about its biology and the functional processes governing its adult life cycle and adaptation to its host. We therefore developed a full life cycle transcriptomic catalogue in adult Varroa females and included pairwise comparisons with males, artificially-reared and non-reproducing females (10 life cycle stages and conditions in total). RESULTS: Extensive remodeling of the Varroa transcriptome was observed, with an upregulation of energetic and chitin metabolic processes during the initial and final phases of the life cycle (e.g. phoretic and post-oviposition stages), whereas during reproductive stages in brood cells genes showing functions related to transcriptional regulation were overexpressed. Several neurotransmitter and neuropeptide receptors involved in behavioural regulation, as well as active compounds of salivary glands, were also expressed at a higher level outside the reproductive stages. No difference was detected between artificially-reared phoretic females and their counterparts in colonies, or between females who failed to reproduce and females who successfully reproduced, indicating that phoretic individuals can be reared outside host colonies without impacting their physiology and that mechanisms underlying reproductive failure occur before oogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: We discuss how these new findings reveal the remarkable adaptation of Varroa to its host biology and notably to the switch from living on adults to reproducing in sealed brood cells. By spanning the entire adult life cycle, our work captures the dynamic changes in the parasite gene expression and serves as a unique resource for deciphering Varroa biology and identifying new targets for mite control.
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Fanny Mondet, Andrea Rau, Christophe Klopp, Marine Rohmer, Dany Séverac, et al.. Transcriptome profiling of the honeybee parasite Varroa destructor provides new biological insights into the mite adult life cycle. BMC Genomics, BioMed Central, 2018, 19 (1), pp.328. ⟨10.1186/s12864-018-4668-z⟩. ⟨inserm-02063466⟩

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