Fredrik Granberg, Marina Vicente-Rubiano, Consuelo Rubio-Guerri, Oskar E. Karlsson, Deborah Kukielka, Sándor Belák, José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno
The situation in Europe concerning honeybees has in recent years become increasingly aggravated with steady decline in populations and/or catastrophic winter losses. This has largely been attributed to the occurrence of a variety of known and “unknown”, emerging novel diseases. Previous studies have demonstrated that colonies often can harbour more than one pathogen, making identification of etiological agents with classical methods difficult. By employing an unbiased metagenomic approach, which allows the detection of both unexpected and previously unknown infectious agents, the detection of three viruses, Aphid Lethal Paralysis Virus (ALPV), Israel Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), and Lake Sinai Virus (LSV), in honeybees from Spain is reported in this article. The existence of a subgroup of ALPV with the ability to infect bees was only recently reported and this is the first identification of such a strain in Europe. Similarly, LSV appear to be a still unclassified group of viruses with unclear impact on colony health and these viruses have not previously been identified outside of the United States. Furthermore, our study also reveals that these bees carried a plant virus, Turnip Ringspot Virus (TuRSV), potentially serving as important vector organisms. Taken together, these results demonstrate the new possibilities opened up by high-throughput sequencing and metagenomic analysis to study emerging new diseases in domestic and wild animal populations, including honeybees.