Findings & Publications


We began our research in the summer of 2021 and will continue over the next few years. Findings will be posted here as they become available.

Metagenomics - Revealing the Hidden Players in the Honey bee Virome

Metagenomics - Revealing the Hidden Players in the Honey bee Virome
The graphic shows an example of the composition of the viruses found in honey bees in Minnesota. Each segment of the pie chart represents a different virus and the percent of the virus community that was identified as that virus. The labels around the outer edge of the plot are the study sampling sites. ABPV = Acute Bee Paralysis Virus. BQCV = Black Queen Cell VIrus, DWV = Deformed Wing Virus, LSV = Lake Sinai Virus, and SBV = Sacbrood Virus. 

We routinely detect DWV, SBV, ABPV, and BQCV in honey bees, which are widespread and common viruses that are known to cause overt disease in bee colonies. It is no surprise to find these well-known viruses in our surveys, but these familiar viruses are only one component of a complex - and ever-changing - viral community. By leveraging advances in sequencing technology and metagenomics, we are able to rapidly sample the whole viral community that is present in bees. This allows us to identify viruses that do not cause obvious disease or even viruses that have not yet been discovered. The other viruses present in our study are such lesser-known viruses - LSV and an unknown cripavirus. Lake sinai viruses are known to be widespread in bees, but despite this, their impact on bee health remains unclear. The new virus appeared to be a novel bee virus related to the genus Cripavirus. Whilst this virus lacks an exact classification for now, it is likely a member of the Dicistroviridae family, to which ABPV and BQCV also belong. A common feature of this family, as exemplified by ABPV or BQCV, are asymptomatic infections, a trait likely also shared by LSV. This exemplifies the power of metagenomic sampling - by studying the total viral community, we can move towards identifying the role of the hidden players in the viral world.

Genome Discovery

honey bee genomic sequencing

A graphical representation of the genomic sequencing results obtained from honey bees collected off flowers in 2021 for the Bee Minnesota project using a novel bioinformatics workflow. In the center is a tree representing sequence similarity with accompanying contig length and GC content information, followed by a series of 18 layers each representing a sample specific honey bee metagenome (unpublished data).

Highlighted in pink is the identification of two samples containing a honey bee virus not previously reported to be found in Minnesota. Next, we will look for these and other honey bee viruses in bumblebees collected at the same location on the same flowers.


Full list of D. Schroeder's publications

Highlighted papers on bee viruses:

Kevill, J.L., Stainton, K.C., Schroeder, D.C. and Martin, S.J., 2021. Deformed wing virus variant shift from 2010 to 2016 in managed and feral UK honey bee colonies. Archives of virology, 166(10), pp.2693-2702.

Grindrod, I., Kevill, J.L., Villalobos, E.M., Schroeder, D.C. and Martin, S.J., 2021. Ten years of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) in Hawaiian honey bees (Apis mellifera), the dominant DWV-A variant is potentially being replaced by variants with a DWV-B coding sequence. Viruses, 13(6), p.969.

Schroeder, D.C., Van Etten, J.L., Jones, I.M., Paweska, J.T., Shi, Z. and Abdel-Moneim, A.S. eds., 2021. Host And Pathogen Mechanisms Underpinning Viral Ecology And Emerging Infections. Frontiers Media SA.

Brettell, L.E., Schroeder, D.C. and Martin, S.J., 2020. RNAseq of Deformed wing virus and other honey bee-associated viruses in eight insect taxa with or without Varroa infestation. Viruses, 12(11), p.1229.

Kevill, J.L., Lee, K., Goblirsch, M., McDermott, E., Tarpy, D.R., Spivak, M. and Schroeder, D.C., 2020. The pathogen profile of a honey bee queen does not reflect that of her workers. Insects, 11(6), p.382.

Highfield, A., Kevill, J., Mordecai, G., Hunt, J., Henderson, S., Sauvard, D., Feltwell, J., Martin, S.J., Sumner, S. and Schroeder, D.C., 2020. Detection and replication of Moku virus in honey bees and social wasps. Viruses, 12(6), p.607.

Yañez, O., Piot, N., Dalmon, A., De Miranda, J.R., Chantawannakul, P., Panziera, D., Amiri, E., Smagghe, G., Schroeder, D. and Chejanovsky, N., 2020. Bee viruses: Routes of infection in Hymenoptera. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, p.943.

Traniello, I.M., Bukhari, S.A., Kevill, J., Ahmed, A.C., Hamilton, A.R., Naeger, N.L., Schroeder, D.C. and Robinson, G.E., 2020. Meta-analysis of honey bee neurogenomic response links Deformed wing virus type A to precocious behavioral maturation. Scientific reports, 10(1), pp.1-12.

Kevill, J.L., de Souza, F.S., Sharples, C., Oliver, R., Schroeder, D.C. and Martin, S.J., 2019. DWV-A lethal to honey bees (Apis mellifera): A colony level survey of DWV variants (A, B, and C) in England, Wales, and 32 states across the US. Viruses, 11(5), p.426.

Brettell, L.E., Schroeder, D.C. and Martin, S.J., 2019. RNAseq analysis reveals virus diversity within Hawaiian apiary insect communities. Viruses, 11(5), p.397.

Kevill, J.L., Highfield, A., Mordecai, G.J., Martin, S.J. and Schroeder, D.C., 2017. ABC assay: Method development and application to quantify the role of three DWV master variants in overwinter colony losses of European honey bees. Viruses, 9(11), p.314.

Brettell, L.E., Mordecai, G.J., Schroeder, D.C., Jones, I.M., Da Silva, J.R., Vicente-Rubiano, M. and Martin, S.J., 2017. A comparison of deformed wing virus in deformed and asymptomatic honey bees. Insects, 8(1), p.28.

Mordecai, G.J., Brettell, L.E., Pachori, P., Villalobos, E.M., Martin, S.J., Jones, I.M. and Schroeder, D.C., 2016. Moku virus; a new Iflavirus found in wasps, honey bees and Varroa. Scientific reports, 6(1), pp.1-6.

Mordecai, G.J., Wilfert, L., Martin, S.J., Jones, I.M. and Schroeder, D.C., 2016. Diversity in a honey bee pathogen: first report of a third master variant of the Deformed Wing Virus quasispecies. The ISME journal, 10(5), pp.1264-1273.

Mordecai, G.J., Brettell, L.E., Martin, S.J., Dixon, D., Jones, I.M. and Schroeder, D.C., 2016. Superinfection exclusion and the long-term survival of honey bees in Varroa-infested colonies. The ISME journal, 10(5), pp.1182-1191.

Schroeder, D.C. and Martin, S.J., 2012. Deformed wing virus: The main suspect in unexplained honeybee deaths worldwide. Virulence, 3(7), pp.589-591.

Martin, S.J., Highfield, A.C., Brettell, L., Villalobos, E.M., Budge, G.E., Powell, M., Nikaido, S. and Schroeder, D.C., 2012. Global honey bee viral landscape altered by a parasitic mite. Science, 336(6086), pp.1304-1306.


Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).