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Ongoing project

Understanding and managing the role of honey bees in CGMMV epidemiology (VM18008)

Key research provider: Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries and Resources

What’s it all about?

Beginning in July 2019, this project is exploring how honey bees are able to introduce cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) into melon crops, and is developing management practices to combat this for both the melon and apiary industries.

Exposure to CGMMV is a significant concern for growers and also for the bee industry, with the virus being highly destructive and contagious. It was first detected in Australia in the Northern Territory in 2014, and has now been detected in the majority of states and territories.

The project’s work will build on earlier research in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund, and deliver updated fact sheets and management plans.

The project team reports progress in the following areas:

  • Seven commercial apiaries located in Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) affected areas have been selected for testing. All apiaries were in Northern Territory (five in Katherine and one each in Mataranka and Darwin) and have been sampled and lab tested (using three molecular assays) for the presence of CGMMV. A study to test the viability of the positive samples is being conducted.
  • Experiments to test the longevity of CGMMV in infected honey have commenced through assessing six infected honeycombs over twelve months with regular viability assessments at six, nine and twelve months.
  • Monitoring of infected hives after honey and pollen harvesting was conducted through molecular testing which found positive detection of CGMMV after three months.
  • As discussed at the project start-up meeting, field trial 1 was moved to early 2020 (rather than October 2019) and reporting on this trial will be detailed later. Preparation for this first field experiment to determine the possibility of CGMMV transfer by honeybees to healthy plants has started and bee training for the experimental plants is being conducted.
  • Initial bee samples from Katherine and Mataranka were tested for other potyviruses (papaya ringspot virus type W and zucchini yellow mosaic virus) which are prevalent in the area and found all samples were negative. This testing will be repeated at the end of the year for further monitoring.
  • Testing for the pollen samples from other possible hosts has been arranged with AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience, DPJR, Victoria.
  • The 2020 Syngenta Australian Melon Conference and Field Day has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 restrictions, however alternative delivery methods are being explored to provide industry with research updates and presentations which would have occurred at the event.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Melon Fund