Monday, October 11, 2010

Bee Colony Collapse update

Many of you have probably heard of 'Bee Colony Collapse Disorder' - the somewhat mysterious decline in bee populations worldwide.

Research published in PLoS this week (Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline)
suggests the bees may be suffering from both an insect virus and a fungus and it may be the combination that is proving especially lethal

The insect virus is closely related to another virus that wiped out bee populations 20 years ago in India.

Though an association between exposure and death was found, scientists don't yet know if the two pathogens cause Colony Collapse Disorder or whether Colony Collapse Disorder colonies are more likely to succumb to the two pathogens.

The next part of the research project, is to isolate the virus from infected bees.
Once we isolate and identify the virus, we will have a way of monitoring it,” one of the authors, Shan Bilimoria, a professor and molecular virologist at Texas Tech, said. “It is easier to fight the problem if we know what the culprit is.

Since many of our agricultural crops are bee pollinated this is one ecosystem service that people are very concerned about.

As an aside, and on the remote chance that anybody has read this far, I was amused to go to the Texas Tech homepage to see their press release on this research to find a headline you won't find anytime soon on the UCSB homepage:
Meat Judging Team wins Eastern National Contest. Does UCSB even have a meat judging team?


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