International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Processes for sample collection and discovery of biomarkers for complex behavioural traits in the Western honey bee, Apis mellifera L.

Author(s):
Abigail A. Chapman, Alexandra Sébastien , Nonno Hasegawa , Corie Rooyakkers , Bradford Vinson , Leonard J. Foster
Institution(s):
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada ; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada ; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada ; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada ; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada
The Western honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) is a critical component of human agriculture as it pollinates many important crops. For years, beekeepers have controlled pathogens such as Paenibacillus larvae  and Nosema spp., as well as pests such as Varroa destructor, with pesticides, but widespread chemical resistance is emerging. In addition, most beekeepers and the general public would prefer to eliminate or reduce the use of in-hive chemicals. An alternate management strategy is to identify and select bees with heritable traits that allow them to resist mites and diseases. Breeding such bees is difficult as the tests involved to identify disease-resistance are complicated, time-consuming, expensive and can misidentify desirable genotypes. Additionally, we do not yet fully understand the mechanisms behind social immunity. We have discovered some biomarkers for hygienic behaviour and are seeking to apply these in a selective breeding program and to understand their role in the molecular mechanism of the behaviour, as well as to identify more markers of more traits. In a two-pronged approach, we are testing conditions for field-sampling of bee tissues that does not require dry ice, as well as embarking on a Canada-wide project to screen 1400 colonies for field phenotypes and proteomic profiles. We have tested various alcohols for ambient temperature preservation of protein samples, and then subsequent extraction and analysis by mass spectrometry. These are benchmarked against preservation on dry ice, which has been the long-standing gold standard. Our data suggest that there are several promising expression patterns that could be used to guide selective breeding program for a variety of traits. Simultaneously, we are able to recommend conditions that optimize sample recovery but still allow real-world beekeepers to collect samples to be submitted for biomarker analysis.
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