Differential gene expression of the honey bees Apis mellifera and A. cerana induced by Varroa destructor infection

J Insect Physiol. 2010 Sep;56(9):1207-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.03.019. Epub 2010 Mar 31.


Varroa destructor mite is currently the most serious threat to the world bee industry. Differences in mite tolerance are reported between two honey bee species Apis mellifera and Apis cerana. Differential gene expression of two honey bee species induced by V. destructor infection was investigated by constructing two suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) libraries, as first steps toward elucidating molecular mechanisms of Varroa tolerance. From the SSH libraries, we obtained 289 high quality sequences which clustered into 132 unique sequences grouped in 26 contigs and 106 singlets where 49 consisted in A. cerana subtracted library and 83 in A. mellifera. Using BLAST, we found that 85% sequences had counterpart known genes whereas 15% were undescribed. A Gene Ontology analysis classified 51 unique sequences into different functional categories. Eight of these differentially expressed genes, representative of different regulation patterns, were confirmed by qRT-PCR. Upon the mite induction, the differentially expressed genes from both bee species were different, except hex 110 gene, which was up-regulated in A. cerana but down-regulated in A. mellifera, and Npy-r gene, which was down-regulated in both species. In general, most of the differential expression genes were involved in metabolic processes and nerve signaling. The results provide information on the molecular response of these two bee species to Varroa infection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Bees / genetics
  • Bees / metabolism*
  • Bees / parasitology*
  • China
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Gene Library
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology*
  • Immunoblotting
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Varroidae*


  • DNA Primers