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Proteomic marker-assisted selection for Varroa and disease resistance

Pernal SF, Hoover SE, Currie RW, Guarna MM, Foster LJ (2016) Proteomic marker-assisted selection for Varroa and disease resistance. XXV International Congress of Entomology 2016, 25-30 Sept 2016, Orlando, FL. doi:10.1603/ICE.2016.95010  Access to full text


Introduction: We used a panel of protein expression biomarkers to selectively breed hygienic behaviour in Apis mellifera through 3 generations over a broad population and evaluated the efficacy of these novel biomarkers for enhancing resistance to American foulbrood disease (AFB), as well as to Varroa destructor. Methods: Across western Canada, 635 colonies from 38 commercial beekeeping operations were tested for hygienic behaviour (HB). A portion of these colonies was then randomly selected to establish an unselected benchmark as well as an F0population. We then successively tested, selected, and propagated three generations from 2011 to 2013, in a direct comparison of proteomic-based marker-assisted selection (MAS) versus traditional behaviourally-based phenotypic selection (FAS) on HB. Results/Conclusion: FAS-selected stock exhibited relative increases in hygienic behaviour of 31.7% over benchmark populations in the F3 generation. Similar, though smaller, gains were observed for the MAS-selected stock. Both FAS and MAS-selected stocks showed clear evidence of improved colony-level resistance in the F1 and F3 to AFB for several parameters including the expression of clinical symptoms, the proportion of colonies infected, and overwintering survival. Lowered phoretic abundance of V. destructor was observed in FAS and MAS-selected stocks compared with benchmarks, and winter survival was improved. F3 colonies headed by MAS queens also had higher proportions recapped cells than benchmarks, but only in Varroa-inoculated treatments, indicating MAS selected for components of Varroa-sensitive hygiene. Our data are the first to show enrichment of a trait using proteomic biomarkers and the utility of this technology in bee breeding.

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