Is Acarapis woodi a single species? A new PCR protocol to evaluate its prevalence

Parasitol Res. 2015 Feb;114(2):651-8. doi: 10.1007/s00436-014-4229-6. Epub 2014 Nov 18.


Acarapisosis is a disease of the adult honey bee Apis mellifera L., caused by the tracheal mite Acarapis woodi (Rennie), that affects the prothoracic tracheas of worker honey bees. Although it is not usually considered a real problem for honey bee colonies in southern Europe (mainly Spain and Greece), where the majority of professional beekeepers are located in Europe, recent works have reported the constant presence of this mite in this area, making it a potential cofactor for colony losses. In this study, we developed a specific PCR diagnostic tool that improves the techniques used so far and allowed us to confirm the presence of this parasite in Spain, urging the need to monitor its prevalence and implications in the health of the colonies. Indeed, in a total of 635 apiaries analysed, the prevalence of A. woodi in 2010 was 8.3 and 4 % in 2011. The mite is present in bee colonies over time and should not be underestimated as a possible cofactor in the collapse of bee colonies. Additionally, some positive samples were cloned so a genetic analysis on the diversity within A. woodi isolates was also approached. This allowed us to identify different genetic variants within an isolate, even when they were present at low frequencies. And this genetic analysis revealed the existence of a different clade of Acarapis sequences that could represent a new species or subspecies, although more research is required to verify the identity of this novel lineage at genetic and morphological level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / parasitology*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Mite Infestations / epidemiology
  • Mite Infestations / parasitology
  • Mite Infestations / veterinary*
  • Mites / classification*
  • Mites / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary*
  • Prevalence
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spain / epidemiology