Proteomic analysis of chemosensory organs in the honey bee parasite Varroa destructor: a comprehensive examination of the potential carriers for semiochemicals


  • I. Iovinella
  • A. McAfee
  • G. Mastrobuoni
  • S. Kempa
  • L.J. Foster
  • P. Pelosi
  • F.R. Dani


  • Journal of Proteomics


  • J Proteomics 181: 131-141


  • We have performed a proteomic analysis on chemosensory organs of Varroa destructor, the honey bee mite, in order to identify putative soluble carriers for pheromones and other olfactory cues emitted by the host. In particular, we have analysed forelegs, mouthparts (palps, chelicera and hypostome) and the second pair of legs (as control tissue) in reproductive and phoretic stages of the Varroa life cycle. We identified 958 Varroa proteins, most of them common to the different organs and stages. Sequence analysis shows that four proteins can be assigned to the odorant-binding protein (OBP)-like class, which bear some similarity to insect OBPs, but so far have only been reported in some Chelicerata. In addition, we have detected the presence of two proteins belonging to the Niemann-Pick family, type C2 (NPC2), which have also been suggested as semiochemical carriers. BIOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The mite Varroa destructor is the major parasite of the honey bee and is responsible for great economical losses. The biochemical tools used by Varroa to detect semiochemicals produced by the host are still largely unknown. This work contributes to understand the molecular basis of olfaction in Varroa and, more generally, how detection of semiochemicals has evolved in terrestrial non-hexapod Arthropoda. Moreover, the identification of molecular carriers involved in olfaction can contribute to the development of control strategies for this important parasite.