Scientists are creating a therapy for varroa, a parasite of bees

Scientists are creating a therapy for varroa, a parasite of bees

(Surrey) Whereas pesticides, pathogens and the consequences of local weather change are jeopardizing bees and their function as pollinators for international agriculture, one other killer stays little recognized to most people: the parasitic mite Varroa.

Posted yesterday at 2:33 p.m.

Brenna Owen
The Canadian Press

Chemistry professor Erika Plettner and her group of researchers at Simon Fraser College in British Columbia are testing a chemical compound that seems to kill mites with out harming bees, in hopes it might sooner or later be broadly out there as a therapy for infested hives.

Varroa mites kill bees by puncturing their cuticle, or exoskeleton, making a wound that will not heal, stated Pre Plettner.

This leaves a doorway for illness and weakens the bees’ immune system, she stated in an interview on the researchers’ experimental apiary.

“That is what finally knocks down (the bees) after they overwinter,” she stated.

She and her group are testing the security and efficacy of a compound recognized in her lab just a few years in the past that seems to paralyze after which kill mites. Researchers do not but perceive precisely how the product works. “We do not know the mite protein that the compound binds to, or the gathering of proteins. We all know that the paralysis often includes the nervous system of the mite,” stated the professor.

His group not too long ago secured funding from Genome British Columbia, a non-profit group, to work with researchers on the College of British Columbia to review how the substance impacts wartworms.

Up to now, the chemical compound reveals promise as a possible therapy alongside 5 or 6 others presently out there, in keeping with Pre Plettner.

It is essential to rotate totally different therapies from yr to yr, she warned, because the mites are beginning to present resistance to present merchandise.

Varroa originated in Asia, however unfold to Afro-European bee populations about 100 years in the past, in keeping with the professor. “When it comes to evolution time, it is comparatively brief. And that is why our bees are so affected by this, as a result of […] from an evolutionary standpoint, they haven’t had the prospect to develop, by choice, pure defenses. »

Efforts are underway to search out bees which are extra naturally proof against mites, stated Pre Plettner, noting that one among his personal hives had been mite-free this summer time, whereas the neighboring hive was “overflowing” with parasites.

“Now and again you get a reasonably mite-resistant hive, and that is a topic of very intensive analysis and beekeeping effort. »

It’ll take just a few extra years to commercialize the compound, making it out there as a therapy, in keeping with his estimates.

Researchers have but to know the way it works and show that it’s protected for bees, beekeepers and the encircling atmosphere.

Mitigating varroa infestations is especially essential given the vary of environmental pressures bees face, defined Pre Plettner, citing local weather change and pesticides particularly.

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