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You are here: Research & Tech Bee Health Varroa Infestation in Honey Bees Affects Protein Metabolism Essential to Their Health

Varroa Infestation in Honey Bees Affects Protein Metabolism Essential to Their Health

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Chennai, October 13, 2011: Scientists at the Bees and Environment Unit, Avignon of France's National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) and the Institute of Functional Genomics, University of Montpellier have recently taken a nutrigenomics approach to investigate the influence of pollen nutrients on the transcriptome of worker honey bees parasitized by the mite Varroa destructor, known for suppressing immunity and decreasing lifespan.

The researchers say in their just published paper* in the journal BMC Genomics that nutrients in the pollen diet, mainly proteins, lipids, aminoacids, vitamins and minerals, "play a crucial role in developing optimal immune response, such that a deficient or improper diet can have negative consequences on the susceptibility to a variety of pathogens. This relationship between health and nutrition has led to the development of a new scientific discipline, called nutrigenomics, that integrates highthroughput genomics tools with nutrition research." The aim of the study was to develop "dietary-intervention strategies to recover normal homeostasis and to prevent diet-related diseases."

They say in the 'Results' of the  study: "Comparing the transcriptome of bees fed with pollen and sugar and bees restricted to a sugar diet, we found that pollen activates nutrient-sensing and metabolic pathways. In addition, those nutrients had a positive influence on genes affecting longevity and the production of some antimicrobial peptides. However, varroa parasitism caused the development of viral populations and a decrease in metabolism, specifically by inhibiting protein metabolism essential to bee health. This harmful effect was not reversed by pollen intake."

The provisional abstract of the paper can be seen here and the complete article (provisional PDF) can be viewed here.

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*Reference cited: Alaux, C., Dantec, C., Parrinello, H. and Le Conte, Y. 2011. Nutrigenomics in honey bees: Digital gene expression analysis of pollen's nutritive effects on healthy and varroa-parasitized bees. BMC Genomics 12: 496. doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-496