After fully sequencing the virus' genome, analysis showed the researchers that MV is most closely related to slow bee paralysis virus, which paralyzes a bee's front legs.
"Worryingly," the scientists wrote, "MV sequences were also detected in honey bees and Varroa from the same location, suggesting that MV can also infect other hymenopteran [bees, ants or wasps] and Acari [mite and tick] hosts."
The team wrote that it's not yet clear how the virus can spread from wasp to honey bee, although they suggested that flower nectar, on which both wasp and bee feed, could be a shared resource that facilitates transmission.
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"Future challenges will be assessing the biological relevance of these novel pathogens and the role they play in the ecology of their hosts," said the study's lead author Gideon Mordecai, in a statement.
"The true significance of this discovery lies in the potential ramifications that a new biological invasion could cause," offered Declan Schroeder, who runs the virus ecology group at the Marine Biological Association (MBA), which genetically analyzed the new virus.
"Could we be seeing history repeating itself?" Schroeder asked. "Similar to the Spanish invasion of the Inca and Aztec empires in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it was the smallpox and measles viruses that inflicted the most damage on the individuals of these populous nations. Here we are seeing an invasive wasp bringing in a new virus to honey bees."