18:08 07 March 2017
Scientists have recently discovered a key set of genes involved in honey bee responses to multiple diseases. The discovery could help researchers breed bees that are more resilient to disease and stress. The findings are important as honey bee populations have experienced severe losses across the Northern Hemisphere due to parasites and pathogens.
Professor Christina Grozinger, a professor of entomology at Pennsylvania State University and a co-author of the study, said: 'Our team created a new bioinformatics tool that has enabled us to integrate information from 19 different genomic data sets to identify the key genes involved in honey bees’ response to diseases,'
The international team composed of 28 researchers from eight different countries developed the ‘directed rank-product analysis’, a technique they used to successfully identify the genes that were expressed similarly across 19 data sets.
Professor Robert Paxton, a professor of zoology at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research and a co-author of the study, said: 'Honey bees were thought to respond to different disease organisms in entirely different ways, but we have learned that they mostly rely on a core set of genes that they turn on or off in response to any major pathogenic challenge,'
'We can now explore the physiological mechanisms by which pathogens overcome their honey-bee hosts, and how honey bees can fight back against those pathogens,'