Better bees through breeding, biochemistry and bioinformatics

A team of researchers have identified how a parasite, Varroa destructor, suppresses immune systems in honeybees and have developed a tool to help breeders more easily produce bees resistant to disease.

By Michael Robin
"Our study offers insights into why Varroa-susceptible bees run into trouble," said Scott Napper, one of the lead authors of a study published in the journal Frontiers in Genetics. Napper is a U of S biochemist and senior scientist with Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac).

"Once they are Varroa infected they become more immune compromised," he said. "This leads to a number of secondary infections that likely leads to the death of the bees and the collapse of the colony."