Genomic signatures underlying the oogenesis of the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor on its new host Apis mellifera

J Adv Res. 2023 Feb:44:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jare.2022.04.014. Epub 2022 May 4.


Introduction: Host shift of parasites may have devastating effects on the novel hosts. One remarkable example is that of the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor, which has shifted its host from Eastern honey bees (Apis cerana) to Western honey bees (Apis mellifera) and posed a global threat to apiculture.

Objectives: To identify the genetic factors underlying the reproduction of host-shifted V. destructor on the new host.

Methods: Genome sequencing was conducted to construct the phylogeny of the host-shifted and non-shifted mites and to screen for genomic signatures that differentiated them. Artificial infestation experiment was conducted to compare the reproductive difference between the mites, and transcriptome sequencing was conducted to find differentially expressed genes (DEGs) during the reproduction process.

Results: The host-shifted and non-shifted V. destructor mites constituted two genetically distinct lineages, with 15,362 high-FST SNPs identified between them. Oogenesis was upregulated in host-shifted mites on the new host A. mellifera relative to non-shifted mites. The transcriptomes of the host-shifted and non-shifted mites differed significantly as early as 1h post-infestation. The DEGs were associated with nine genes carrying nonsynonymous high-FST SNPs, including mGluR2-like, Lamb2-like and Vitellogenin 6-like, which were also differentially expressed, and eIF4G, CG5800, Dap160 and Sas10, which were located in the center of the networks regulating the DEGs based on protein-protein interaction analysis.

Conclusions: The annotated functions of these genes were all associated with oogenesis. These genes appear to be the key genetic determinants of the oogenesis of host-shifted mites on the new host. Further study of these candidate genes will help elucidate the key mechanism underlying the success of host shifts of V. destructor.

Keywords: Honey bee; Host shift; Oogenesis; Transcriptome; Varroa destructor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees* / parasitology
  • Genome
  • Genomics
  • Oogenesis / genetics
  • Parasites* / genetics
  • Varroidae* / genetics