22 Dec 2010:
Are Targeted Using Genetic Technique
UK scientists have developed a genetic technique to cause the self-destruction of a deadly mite
that has played a role in the decimation of honeybee populations worldwide through so-called colony collapse
disorder. In laboratory tests, researchers at the University of Aberdeen and the UK’s National Bee Unit were able to target and disable specific genes in the varroa mite, a parasite that has killed millions of bees across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. and caused significant harm to the honey industry. “This approach targets the mites without harming the bees or, indeed, any other animal,” said Alan Bowman, lead author of the study published in the journal Parasites and Vectors
. Researchers hope the technique will be approved for general use within five to 10 years. The mites, which look like tiny brown crabs, attach themselves to honeybees, draining the insects of their blood and weakening their immune systems. According to researchers, 1,000 mites can destroy a colony of 50,000 bees.
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