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Project Details

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Upgrading knowledge of pathogens (particularly viruses) of Australian honeybees
Summary This study aims to upgrade knowledge on honeybee pathogens in Australia. There are concerns that gaps exist in our current knowledge, as molecular techniques have become standard practice and the last major survey was completed in 1987 and limited to viruses in Eastern Australia, using relatively insensitive serological methods. In 2010, the US suspended trade of Australian queen and packaged bees over concerns of novel pathogens introduced by Apis cerana and the unknown presence of slow paralysis virus. While pathogens of Apis cerana are currently being assessed, a national survey of viruses using molecular techniques is still needed.

In addition, to prepare for the arrival of Varroa it is important Australia knows the prevalence of viruses that cause mortality in association with the mite, such as deformed wing virus. Surveys for certain nonviral pathogens considered not present in particular States (e.g. European foulbrood and Nosema ceranae) also need to be ongoing and will be included in this survey.

Over 2 years, Dr John Roberts will collect samples from all Australian states, covering twelve regions representing key areas for the honeybee industry. Across these regions at least 150 apiaries will be sampled. Brood will be inspected for signs of disease and samples of diseased brood and adult bees screened by molecular techniques to detect nonviral pathogens and viruses. Deep sequencing will be incorporated to support the presence/absence of viruses. Biosecurity Australia has shown support for this approach and is assessing support from the US.
Program Honey Bee
Research organisation CSIRO
Objective summary 1. Collect adults and diseased brood of European honeybees (Apis mellifera) from all Australian states

2. Determine the presence and distribution of viruses (and strains of viruses) in Australia using molecular techniques, with particular emphasis on slow paralysis virus and deformed wing virus.

3. Determine the presence of nonviral pathogens (particularly European foulbrood and Nosema ceranae) considered not present in certain Australian states using molecular techniques.
Project Stage Closed
Project start date Saturday, June 01, 2013
Project completion date Monday, August 31, 2015
Journal articles from project Not Available
National priority Safeguarding Australia
Rural priority Biosecurity
RIRDC goal HBE-Reduce the incidence and impact of pests and diseases on the beekeeping and pollination services industries
Principal researcher John Roberts
Research manager Dave Alden
Admin contact Mithun Patel