A small-scale survey was conducted on 64 beehives located in four governorates of Syria in order to assess for the first time the presence of honeybee-infecting viruses and of Varroa destructor mites in the country. RT-PCR assays conducted on 192 honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) using virus-specific primers showed that Deformed wing virus (DWV) was present in 49 (25.5%) of the tested samples and Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV) in 2 (1.04%), whereas Acute bee paralysis virus, Sacbrood virus, Black queen cell virus and Kashmir bee virus were absent. Nucleotide sequences of PCR amplicons obtained from DWV and CBPV genomes shared 95-97 and 100% identity with isolates reported in the GenBank, respectively. The phylogenetic tree grouped the Syrian DWV isolates in one cluster, distinct from all those of different origins reported in the database. Furthermore, 19 adult V. destructor females were genetically analyzed by amplifying and sequencing four fragments in cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (cox1), ATP synthase 6 (atp6), cox3 and cytochrome b (cytb) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes. Sequences of concatenated V. destructor mtDNA genes (2696 bp) from Syria were similar to the Korean (K) haplotype and were found recurrently in all governorates. In addition, two genetic lineages of haplotype K with slight variations (0.2-0.3%) were present only in Tartous and Al-Qunaitra governorates.
Keywords: Apis mellifera; Sequencing; Syria; Varroa destructor; Viruses; mtDNA.