Killing Parasite’s Genome Unveiled

A bee-killing parasite that surfaced in the past three years is being fought genetically by the Agricultural Research Service.
By Dennis O'Brien, ARS
June 12, 2009
Add to My MSN

A honey bee sits on an apple blossom.
courtesy ARS/Jack Dykinga
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Alien species

Intentionally or accidently introduced alien species can be great or can be major problems.

Colorado-Based Agricultural Services Company Announces Crop Production Planning Service for 2013

To assist growers with their "bet the farm" decision Ag Production Planning Services is launching a ...

Prairie Invasive Plants

Create a healthy prairie by removing invasive plants

Heed the Warning, Oregeno IS Invasive

Oregeno is a great herb to grow, but heed the warning that it tends to be invasive.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have sequenced the genome of an invasive parasite called Nosema ceranae that can kill honey bees and is one of the many suspects in the mysterious ailment known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).

ARS researchers Jay Evans, Yanping (Judy) Chen and R. Scott Cornman also have nearly completed sequencing the genome of Nosema apis, a native "cousin" of the parasite.

The scientists are using genetic tools and microscopic analysis at the ARS Bee Research Laboratory (BRL) in Beltsville, Maryland, to examine the two parasites suspected as a partial cause of CCD. They are working with BRL research leader Jeff Pettis, Yan Zhao of the ARS Molecular Plant Pathology Laboratory in Beltsville, and researchers from the University of Maryland, Columbia University, and 454 Life Sciences of Branford, Conneticut.

In 2006, CCD began devastating commercial beekeeping operations, with some beekeepers reporting losses of up to 90 percent. Researchers believe CCD may be the result of a combination of pathogens, parasites and stress factors, but the cause remains elusive. At stake are honey bees that add up to $15 billion in value to crops in the United States.

Nosema is a fungus-related microbe that produces spores that bees consume when they forage. Infection spreads from the bees' digestive tract to other tissues. Within weeks, colonies are either wiped out or lose much of their strength. N. apis was the leading cause of microsporidia infections among domestic bee colonies until recently, when N. ceranae jumped from Asian honey bees to the European honey bees used commercially in the United States.

Sequencing the genomes should help scientists figure out how N. ceranae became dominant, trace its migration patterns, help resolve how the microbes spread infection, and develop diagnostic tests and treatments. A report on the work was recently published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.








Post a comment below.

 








Pay Now & Save 50% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Live The Good Life with Grit!

For more than 125 years, Grit has helped its readers live more prosperously and happily while emphasizing the importance of community and a rural lifestyle tradition. In each bimonthly issue, Grit includes helpful articles, humorous and inspiring articles, captivating photos, gardening and cooking advice, do-it-yourself projects and the practical reader advice you would expect to find in America’s premier rural lifestyle magazine.

Get your guide to living outside the city limits delivered straight to your mailbox. Subscribe to Grit today!  Simply fill in your information below to receive 1 year (6 issues) of Grit for only $19.95!

SPECIAL BONUS OFFER!

At Grit, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to Grit through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Grit for only $14.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Grit for just $19.95!