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November 15, 2023

A new paper on an enigmatic giant virus of honey bees, Apis mellifera filamentous virus (AmFV), was recently authored by FORT geneticist (Robert) Scott Cornman as an example of how mining big data repositories can generate new insights not readily achievable by other means. 

Image: Honey Bees are Valuable Pollinators
Honey bees play a major role in pollinating the world’s plants, including valuable crops. However, their populations are threatened by numerous understudied diseases, including AmFV.

The study showed that the previous view of a single, highly conserved AmFV lineage in honey bees is incorrect: there are at least three distinct lineages that appear to differ in their ability to infect different host races (for example, European-derived domesticated bees versus African-derived bees).

The AmFV virus also expresses its genome differently in brain tissue relative to other tissues. Tissue-specific expression and host-virus coevolution are hallmarks of the highly complex interactions that can occur between large DNA viruses and insect hosts, such as symbioses and behavioral manipulation.

The new study suggests that AmFV may be more important in the health of this critical agricultural pollinator than previously realized. The paper was published Nov. 14 in the journal PeerJ and is entitled "Data mining reveals tissue-specific expression and host lineage-associated forms of Apis mellifera filamentous virus".

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