Honey bee populations are currently experiencing serious losses in many places around the world, which is a fundamental issue for the maintenance and biodiversity of natural and agricultural ecosystems. Viral infections are highly prevalent but the occurrences of clinical signs and mortality depend on additional stressors in bee colonies. To disentangle the factors contributing to the switch between covert and overt viral infections, the interactions between viruses will be assessed under different experimental conditions (laboratory and field conditions). Different stages of the insect’s development and different routes for viral infection will be tested to reproduce the ecological dynamics of these pathogens and measure their impacts on honey bee health using molecular, physiological and behavioural approaches.
Viruses isolated from field samples or prepared from infectious clones will be inoculated into bees. The kinetics of virus infections will be correlated to both in vitro mortality and effects on the colonies’ foraging behaviour measured using bee counters. In parallel, immune and physiological responses of the bees will be assessed. The role of the mite in viral interaction will be also studied.
The thesis will be completed within the framework of a joint program between ANSES (Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail) and INRAE (Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’alimentation et l’Environnement). The candidate will share their time in the Honeybee Pathology Unit (ANSES Sophia Antipolis, France) and in the Abeilles & Environnement Unit (INRAE Avignon, France).
Funding
The PhD student will be funded for 3 years via a joint program between INRAE and ANSES.
Doctoral school
Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse, École Doctorale 536 «Sciences et Agrosciences», France
Candidate profile
We are looking for a candidate with a Master’s degree in Biology and a strong background in insect physiology and virology. Good skills in molecular biology, statistics and English will be greatly appreciated.
The candidate should not have known allergies to bee stings.
Supervisors
INRAE: Anne Dalmon
ANSES: Eric Dubois
How to apply
Applications should include a detailed CV and a one-page cover letter. Two reference letters will be appreciated but are not a requirement. A unique pdf document compiling the CV, the cover letter and reference letters should be sent by email to anne.dalmon@inrae.fr and eric.dubois@anses.fr before the 31st July 2021. Selected candidates will then be interviewed. The PhD is expected to start in October 2021.

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