Aquatank wrote:Thats like saying mosquitos cause malaria. The mite is just one vector.
Honey Bee Massacre: The Blame Game Continues viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1666
Honeybee collapse strikes Japan up to 50% of bees DEAD.viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1667
Aussie bees cleared of US colony collapse?viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1665Australia should engineer a special beeLast posted Fri Aug 15, 2008.
Australia should engineer a special bee to be resistant to the destructive varroa mite to preserve its honey and pollination industries, a leading entomologist says.
Dr Max Whitten, former head of entomology at CSIRO, says Australia is expected any day to succumb to the varroa mite, which is implicated in the devastating Colony Collapse Disorder that has decimated US hives.
Varroa sucks the "blood" of the bee and makes it more susceptible to disease.
Dr Whitten says we should engineer a bee, which has a gene for resistance to varroa which can be turned on by a chemical used by beekeepers.
"The concept is to take a gene whose product will prevent the mite from completing its life cycle," he said.
Dr Whitten says such a bee would be resistant to varroa so long as it was in hives managed with the chemical, but would be killed off by varroa if it escaped into the wild.
he says inserting a new queen bee with this gene into a hive would create a whole hive of resistant bees in three weeks.
He says this so-called "flexi-bee" would also be a "green bee", perhaps satisfying some conservationists' concerns about the negative impact of feral honey bees on native bees in state forests and national parks.
Dr Whitten says some bees, even those of the same species as the honey bee, are naturally resistant to varroa.
He says if the gene responsible for this resistance could be identified, it could then be transferred into honey bees, adding this is made more possible by the fact that the whole genome of the honey bee has been sequenced.
"A 'promoter' sequence that turns the gene on and off would also need to be identified and transferred," he said.
"This 'promoter' would need to be able to be activated using a non-toxic, low-cost, easily-available chemical."
Professor Ben Oldroyd from the University of Sydney, who is working on identifying bee genes responsible for hive-cleaning behaviour, says Dr Whitten's proposal is possible but there are significant technical challenges.
First, he says, it relies on the unlikely situation in which resistance relies on a single gene.
"I strongly suspect there is no single gene that you'll be able to pull in like that," he said.
"It's difficult to control who queen bees mate with, in the absence of costly artificial insemination.
"They normally mate in the air with wild drones, which means any genetic resistance would have to be dominant if its trait was going to be transferred to the hive population."
Professor Oldroyd agrees with Dr Whitten on the usefulness of developing a varroa-resistant bee, saying scientists believe the varroa mite lays eggs on bees in response to a chemical signal from the bees.
"It would be useful to identify this chemical signal and then knock out the gene responsible for it," he said.
Both Professor Oldroyd and Dr Whitten have been involved in Pollination Australia, an organisation that plans to protect pollinators from pests and diseases.