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Research Article

A New Threat to Honey Bees, the Parasitic Phorid Fly Apocephalus borealis

  • Andrew Core,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Charles Runckel,

    Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Jonathan Ivers,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Christopher Quock,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Travis Siapno,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Seraphina DeNault,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Brian Brown,

    Affiliation: Entomology Section, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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  • Joseph DeRisi,

    Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Christopher D. Smith,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • John Hafernik mail

    acore13@yahoo.com

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Published: January 03, 2012
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029639

Reader Comments (7)

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extended phenotype?

Posted by cryptevah on 11 Jan 2012 at 18:01 GMT

Great article. I was wondering if there will be further research done on the genetic causes of the proposed "extended phenotype" mentioned. There is a bit about disrupting the bees' circadian rhythm but not much yet on the actual mechanisms or a gene that may be responsible specifically in this case. This is the part the interested me at first (though the entire thing was an enjoyable and informative read). I'll be looking out for further details on it, hopefully. (I ask because perhaps your study deals more with stopping the flies in the first place and not focusing so much on the virus it carries/causes)

Either way thanx! =]

No competing interests declared.

RE: extended phenotype?

smithcd replied to cryptevah on 11 Jan 2012 at 22:22 GMT

Dear Cryptehah,

Thanks for the question. In this 1st report we tried to focus on the description of the parasitoid/parasite and sampling. We were fortunate to have an excellent collaboration where we could get the DNA from the phorid onto the DNA microarray which immediately allowed us to test many more samples for distribution of the parasite, but molecular characterization is obviously of great interest.

Indeed, we are very interested in the genetic mechanisms that may underly or influence the hive abandonment phenotype we observed. We have already begun to look at candidate circadian rhythm genes to see if infected honey bees have an altered circadian rhythm. We see some interesting changes that need to be replicated and reproduced with better controls including bees that have been experimentally infected and nurse bees from inside the hive. We did not include this data because it is quite preliminary. We took a candidate gene approach for cost reasons and because it made sense that either circadian rhythm of phototaxis genes (i.e. foraging) might be mis-regulated, but taking a transcriptome approach might allow for for a more objective assessment for which genes are up- or down-regulated in response to the phorid infection. I hope the funding climate allows these studies sooner than later.



Competing interests declared: Author on the manuscript