Research Topic

Obstacles, Advantages and Recent Progress in Honey Bee Virus Research

About this Research Topic

Honey bees are valuable, sometimes indispensable pollinators of many sexually reproducing plants. Therefore, they are important for maintaining biodiversity in natural ecosystems and for increasing the yield and quality of many crops and fruits in agriculture. Since in many countries, the majority of the honey bee population is managed by bee keepers, safeguarding and improving the health and survival of honey bees should be easier than for other insects. Nevertheless, there are frequent reports on exceptionally high colony losses especially over the winter season from all over the world. Possible reasons could be found among the many factors affecting honey bees including climate change, agricultural intensification, pollutants, beekeeping practice, but also a wide variety of pathogens and parasites.

Among the pathogens threatening honey bees, research over the past decade has identified honey bee pathogenic viruses as particularly worrisome contributors to increased colony mortality in both the winter (overwintering) and the summer (foraging) season. This finding led to a renewed interest in bee virology and an intensive as well as successful search for new honey bee viruses. Unfortunately, little is known about the biological impact of most of the viruses newly discovered in honey bees. However, this applies not only to the new, presumably bee-pathogenic viruses, but also to many of the “old” ones: Knowledge on the pathology and pathogenesis and sometimes even transmission of bee virus infections, particularly on the level of the individual bee, is still poor. In order to gain a better understanding of viral infections and virus-bee interactions, we urgently need studies addressing the pathobiology of bee viruses in individual bees and on tissue, cellular, and molecular level.
It is not trivial to achieve this understanding because there are many obstacles in bee virus research, for instance that cell culture models in most cases are lacking and that it is difficult to obtain pure virus preparations for experimental approaches. But there are also advantages for those who work with bee viruses, because experimental infection of all life stages is feasible, which offers the possibility to establish animal models. Despite the obstacles and due to the advantages there has been considerable progress in bee virus research in the recent past.

Scope and information for Authors

The goal of this Research Topic is to address the obstacles and advantages in bee virus research and to report recent progress, especially made in solving the obstacles in this field. This Research Topic welcomes original research articles and reviews that will contribute to understanding virus-bee interactions. We are particularly interested in articles that describe host-pathogen interactions and symptoms of infection on tissue, cellular, and molecular level.

Potential sub-topics include, but are not limited to

• Development of cell culture models for bee viruses
• Development of animal models for bee viruses
• Pathobiology of bee viruses
• Cell biology of bee virus infections
• Molecular biology of bee viruses (genomics, structure, function)
• Molecular approaches to study virus-bee interactions
• Reverse genetic approaches for studying bee viruses
• Diverse approaches for relating virus infections and symptoms

Manuscripts primarily reporting the detection of bee viruses in geographical regions do not fall within the scope of this special issue.


Keywords: bee viruses, host-pathogen interaction, cell culture model, animal model, molecular approach


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Honey bees are valuable, sometimes indispensable pollinators of many sexually reproducing plants. Therefore, they are important for maintaining biodiversity in natural ecosystems and for increasing the yield and quality of many crops and fruits in agriculture. Since in many countries, the majority of the honey bee population is managed by bee keepers, safeguarding and improving the health and survival of honey bees should be easier than for other insects. Nevertheless, there are frequent reports on exceptionally high colony losses especially over the winter season from all over the world. Possible reasons could be found among the many factors affecting honey bees including climate change, agricultural intensification, pollutants, beekeeping practice, but also a wide variety of pathogens and parasites.

Among the pathogens threatening honey bees, research over the past decade has identified honey bee pathogenic viruses as particularly worrisome contributors to increased colony mortality in both the winter (overwintering) and the summer (foraging) season. This finding led to a renewed interest in bee virology and an intensive as well as successful search for new honey bee viruses. Unfortunately, little is known about the biological impact of most of the viruses newly discovered in honey bees. However, this applies not only to the new, presumably bee-pathogenic viruses, but also to many of the “old” ones: Knowledge on the pathology and pathogenesis and sometimes even transmission of bee virus infections, particularly on the level of the individual bee, is still poor. In order to gain a better understanding of viral infections and virus-bee interactions, we urgently need studies addressing the pathobiology of bee viruses in individual bees and on tissue, cellular, and molecular level.
It is not trivial to achieve this understanding because there are many obstacles in bee virus research, for instance that cell culture models in most cases are lacking and that it is difficult to obtain pure virus preparations for experimental approaches. But there are also advantages for those who work with bee viruses, because experimental infection of all life stages is feasible, which offers the possibility to establish animal models. Despite the obstacles and due to the advantages there has been considerable progress in bee virus research in the recent past.

Scope and information for Authors

The goal of this Research Topic is to address the obstacles and advantages in bee virus research and to report recent progress, especially made in solving the obstacles in this field. This Research Topic welcomes original research articles and reviews that will contribute to understanding virus-bee interactions. We are particularly interested in articles that describe host-pathogen interactions and symptoms of infection on tissue, cellular, and molecular level.

Potential sub-topics include, but are not limited to

• Development of cell culture models for bee viruses
• Development of animal models for bee viruses
• Pathobiology of bee viruses
• Cell biology of bee virus infections
• Molecular biology of bee viruses (genomics, structure, function)
• Molecular approaches to study virus-bee interactions
• Reverse genetic approaches for studying bee viruses
• Diverse approaches for relating virus infections and symptoms

Manuscripts primarily reporting the detection of bee viruses in geographical regions do not fall within the scope of this special issue.


Keywords: bee viruses, host-pathogen interaction, cell culture model, animal model, molecular approach


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

11 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

11 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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