Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Scientific Reports | (2022) 12:17263 | https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-20110-0


Open access.


The devastating Varroa mite (Varroa destructor Anderson and Trueman) is an obligatory ectoparasite of the honey bee, contributing to significant colony losses in North America and throughout the world. The limited number of conventional acaricides to reduce Varroa mites and prevent disease in honey bee colonies is challenged with wide-spread resistance and low target-site selectivity. Here, we propose a biorational approach using comparative genomics for the development of honey beesafe and selective acaricides targeting the Varroa mite-specific neuropeptidergic system regulated by proctolin, which is lacking in the honey bee. Proctolin is a highly conserved pentapeptide RYLPT (Arg-Tyr-Leu-Pro-Thr) known to act through a G protein-coupled receptor to elicit myotropic activity in arthropod species. A total of 33 different peptidomimetic and peptide variants were tested on the Varroa mite proctolin receptor. Ligand docking model and mutagenesis studies revealed the importance of the core aromatic residue Tyr2 in the proctolin ligand. Peptidomimetics were observed to have significant oral toxicity leading to the paralysis and death of Varroa mites, while there were no negative effects observed for honey bees. We have demonstrated that a taxon-specific physiological target identified by advanced genomics information offers an opportunity to develop Varroa miteselective acaricides, hence, expedited translational processes.

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