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Biological control of the parasite Varroa destructor in Apis mellifera hives

Grant number: 19/23976-0
Support type:Research Grants - Innovative Research in Small Business - PIPE
Duration: June 01, 2020 - May 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Applied Ecology
Principal Investigator:Larissa Galante Elias
Grantee:Larissa Galante Elias
Company:Decoy Tecnologia em Controle de Pragas Ltda. - ME
CNAE: Criação de animais não especificados anteriormente
Atividades de apoio à agricultura
Atividades veterinárias
City: Ribeirão Preto
Co-Principal Investigators:Bárbara Matos Do Prado ; Túlio Marcos Nunes
Assoc. researchers:Cristiano Menezes ; David de Jong ; Filipe Jose Dal Bo de Andrade ; Gabriel Moura Mascarin ; Lucas Garcia von Zuben
Associated research grant:18/08221-0 - Biological control of the parasite Varroa destructor in Apis mellifera hives, AP.PIPE

Abstract

Apiculture is an important sector of Worls economy, being responsible for approximately U$$ 730 million in the US in 2018, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 41 % of this value (US$302 million) correspond to pollination services, 46% (US$333 million) correspond to honey commercialisation and 13% (US$ 95 million) correspond to the commercialisation of other colony products (wax and pollen, for example). However, honeybee populations have been affected lately by a worldwide phenomena that has led to the loss of Apis mellifera colonies (Colony Collapse Disorder, CCD). Infestations by the parasitic mite Varroa destructor seem to play an important role in recent colony colapses, mainly in North America and Europe, being one of the biggest threats to beekeeping. The mites parasitise honeybee pupae, feeding on their fat body. They also transmit some of the most important viruses responsible for damaging bees, such as the "deformed wing virus" (DWV). Parasitised bees have lower weight upon emergence and lower percentage of nest return. Since Varroa destructor has developed resistance to most of the chemical treatments traditionally used by beekeepers, the use of biological agents to control infestations has become a promising alternative. In this context, we propose the use of Lecanicillium lecanii fungi as a control alternative for V. destructor. The final product to be developed aims beekeepers in the US, since the country is the most affected with mite infections, offering them an option to the effective and safe control of V. destructor. The product consists of a formulation containing conidia of the fungi in emulsifiable oil or in powder. Throughout the project, we will (1) determine the effectiveness in the field of conidia and blastospores against V. destrcutor, (2) select the most adequate formulation to storage, viability and commercial distribution of the fungal spores, (3) ensure safety of the product for honeybees and (4) choose the best application method in nests in the field. We hope to, in the end of the project, develop a product with adequate formulation and protocol, which is effective to control the mite, safe to honeybees and does not cause contamination of nest products or the environment. Currently there are no commercial options for biological control of V. destructor using fungi, allowing the company to explore a new market. The availability of fungi-based biological control to beekeepers will allow sustainable control of V. destructor, avoiding colony collapses, enhancing the potential for pollination, and production of honey, wax and propollis. (AU)