Author Topic: Genetically engineered bee gut bacteria to fight colony collapse  (Read 534 times)

Offline Mr. Bill

  • Like a hot cocoa mojito
  • Administrator
  • Ultimate Survival Veteran
  • *******
  • Posts: 15024
  • Karma: 1871
  • Trained Attack Sheepdog/Troll hunter
    • Website Maintenance and Online Presence Management by Mr. Bill
University of Texas press release, 1/30/20: Bacteria Engineered to Protect Bees from Pests and Pathogens

Quote
...The engineered bacteria live in the guts of honey bees and act as biological factories, pumping out medicines protecting the bees against two major causes of colony collapse: Varroa mites and deformed wing virus. The researchers believe their method could one day scale up for agricultural use because the engineered bacteria are easy to grow, inoculating the bees is straightforward and the engineered bacteria are unlikely to spread beyond bees. ...

Varroa mites and deformed wing virus often come together; as the mites feed on bees, they can spread the virus, while also weakening the bees and making them more vulnerable to pathogens in the environment.

To address each problem, the team engineered one strain of bacteria to target the virus and another for the mites. Compared with control bees, the bees treated with the strain of bacteria targeting the virus were 36.5% more likely to survive to day 10. Meanwhile, Varroa mites feeding on another set of bees treated with the mite-targeting strain of bacteria were about 70% more likely to die by day 10 than mites feeding on control bees. ...

While the experiments occurred under strict biocontainment protocols used with genetic engineering, Moran said, even absent such protocols, the risk of the engineered bacteria escaping into the wild and infecting other insects — and thereby conferring some anti-pest or anti-pathogen superpowers — is very low. The type of bacteria used are highly specialized to live in the bee gut, can’t survive for long outside of it and are protective for a virus that strikes only bees. Still, further research will be needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of the treatments in agricultural settings. ...