Elucidating the mechanisms underlying the beneficial health effects of dietary pollen on honey bees (Apis mellifera) infested by Varroa mite ectoparasites

Desiderato Annoscia, Virginia Zanni, David Galbraith, Anna Quirici, Christina Grozinger, Renzo Bortolomeazzi, Francesco Nazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Parasites and pathogens of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) are key factors underlying colony losses, which are threatening the beekeeping industry and agriculture as a whole. To control the spread and development of pathogen infections within the colony, honey bees use plant resins with antibiotic activity, but little is known about the properties of other substances, that are mainly used as a foodstuff, for controlling possible diseases both at the individual and colony level. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that pollen is beneficial for honey bees challenged with the parasitic mite Varroa destructor associated to the Deformed Wing Virus. First, we studied the effects of pollen on the survival of infested bees, under laboratory and field conditions, and observed that a pollen rich diet can compensate the deleterious effects of mite parasitization. Subsequently, we characterized the pollen compounds responsible for the observed positive effects. Finally, based on the results of a transcriptomic analysis of parasitized bees fed with pollen or not, we developed a comprehensive framework for interpreting the observed effects of pollen on honey bee health, which incorporates the possible effects on cuticle integrity, energetic metabolism and immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6258
JournalScientific reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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