Poster Presentation 24th Annual Lorne Proteomics Symposium 2019

Development of an immune response assay for honey bees   (#110)

Shannon Holt 1 2 3 , Harvey Millar 3 , Julia Grassl 1 2 3
  1. Honey Bee Health Research Group, School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth
  2. Cooperative Research Centre, Honey Bee Products, Yanchep, WA, Australia
  3. ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) health is under increasing threat, with population declines observed in both managed and wild bees. As demands for pollination services are increasing, understanding and protecting bee health is essential. Honey bees are susceptible to a large range of parasites and pathogens, and infections can significantly affect colony health and productivity. As a result, weak colonies can become increasingly vulnerable to additional infections. Current practice around the world often involves treating colonies with pesticides in order to kill pathogens. This is harmful to the bees and is also an ineffective method for long term management. A more sustainable approach is to selectively breed for disease resistant traits. This project aims to develop a panel of protein markers which could be used to identify immune competent bees. Recent research identified an array of immune response proteins in male honey bees. These were found to change in abundance when male bees were infected with the pathogen, Nosema apis. Using targeted protein quantitation through MRM mass spectrometry analysis, we will develop an assay to quantitate proteins from the four immune pathways: Toll, immune deficiency (IMD), c-Jun N-terminal kinases signalling (JNK), and Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT). We will then test the markers in other diseases; both present and absent from Australia.  Once confirmed, the panel of markers could be used to investigate immune response, providing a platform for marker-directed breeding of more immune competent bees.