Metatranscriptome analysis of sympatric bee species identifies bee virus variants and a new virus, andrena-associated bee virus-1

Katie F. Daughenbaugh, Idan Kahnonitch, Charles C. Carey, Alexander J. McMenamin, Tanner Wiegand, Tal Erez, Naama Arkin, Brian Ross, Blake Wiedenheft, Asaf Sadeh, Nor Chejanovsky, Yael Mandelik, Michelle L. Flenniken*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Bees are important plant pollinators in agricultural and natural ecosystems. High average annual losses of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in some parts of the world, and regional population declines of some mining bee species (Andrena spp.), are attributed to multiple factors including habitat loss, lack of quality forage, insecticide exposure, and pathogens, including viruses. While research has primarily focused on viruses in honey bees, many of these viruses have a broad host range. It is therefore important to apply a community level approach in studying the epidemiology of bee viruses. We utilized high-throughput sequencing to evaluate viral diversity and viral sharing in sympatric, co-foraging bees in the context of habitat type. Variants of four common viruses (i.e., black queen cell virus, deformed wing virus, Lake Sinai virus 2, and Lake Sinai virus NE) were identified in honey bee and mining bee samples, and the high degree of nucleotide identity in the virus consensus sequences obtained from both taxa indicates virus sharing. We discovered a unique bipartite + ssRNA Tombo-like virus, Andrena-associated bee virus-1 (AnBV-1). AnBV-1 infects mining bees, honey bees, and primary honey bee pupal cells maintained in culture. AnBV-1 prevalence and abundance was greater in mining bees than in honey bees. Statistical modeling that examined the roles of ecological factors, including floral diversity and abundance, indicated that AnBV-1 infection prevalence in honey bees was greater in habitats with low floral diversity and abundance, and that interspecific virus transmission is strongly modulated by the floral community in the habitat. These results suggest that land management strategies that aim to enhance floral diversity and abundance may reduce AnBV-1 spread between co-foraging bees.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number291
Issue number2
StatePublished - 12 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Andrena
  • Andrena-associated bee virus-1 (AnBV-1)
  • Apis mellifera
  • Bees
  • Black queen cell virus
  • Deformed wing virus
  • Honey bee virus
  • Lake Sinai virus
  • Pollinators
  • RNA virus
  • Virus ecology
  • Virus transmission


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