Gene study boosts bid to keep British bees safe from disease

November 27, 2018, University of Edinburgh
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Efforts to protect the UK's native honey bees could be helped by research that maps their entire genetic make-up.

Experts also analysed the genetic profile of bacteria and other organisms that live inside , to shed new light on emerging diseases that threaten bee colonies.

Researchers say their findings could help to safeguard native bee populations from the effects of infectious diseases through improved health monitoring.

Bees play a vital role in helping to pollinate crops and wild plants, so minimising risks to them is crucial.

A team led by the University of Edinburgh analysed the entire genetic makeup of from across the UK and compared them with recently imported bees.

They found that bees from some in Scotland were genetically very similar to the UK's native dark bee, even though southern European strains have been imported for many years

The researchers from the University's Roslin Institute say this is good news as native bees were thought to be endangered in the UK. They suggest this could mean that native bees survive better in cooler climates than their relatives from southern Europe.

The team also analysed the genetic makeup of bacteria and other organisms that live inside bees—the so-called metagenome.

The findings uncovered organisms that had not been seen before in honey bees and that may cause disease. Hives that are infected with these may also be more susceptible to other infections.

Explore further: Common weed killer linked to bee deaths

More information: Tim Regan et al, Characterisation of the British honey bee metagenome, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07426-0

Related Stories

Common weed killer linked to bee deaths

September 24, 2018

The world's most widely used weed killer may also be indirectly killing bees. New research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that honey bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, lose some of ...

Best for bees to be stay-at-homes

July 14, 2014

Honey bees with roots in the local environment manage much better in the struggle for survival than imported honey bees from foreign environments.

Sick bees eat healthier

February 7, 2018

Dr Lori Lach, Senior Lecturer at JCU, said the study compared the feeding habits of healthy bees to those infected with the gut parasite Nosema ceranae.

Inside the brains of killer bees

June 6, 2018

Africanized honeybees, commonly known as "killer bees," are much more aggressive than their European counterparts. Now researchers have examined neuropeptide changes that take place in Africanized honeybees' brains during ...

Recommended for you

Rice plants that grow as clones from seed

December 12, 2018

Plant biologists at the University of California, Davis have discovered a way to make crop plants replicate through seeds as clones. The discovery, long sought by plant breeders and geneticists, could make it easier to propagate ...

Tiny tech tracks hummingbirds at urban feeders

December 12, 2018

Beep" is not a sound you expect to hear coming from a hummingbird feeder. Yet "beeps" abounded during a study led by the University of California, Davis to monitor hummingbirds around urban feeders and help answer questions ...

Researchers find positive visual contagion in Barbary macaques

December 12, 2018

A pair of researchers at the University of Roehampton has found that captive Barbary macaques are capable of engaging in positive visual contagion—a behavior normally only seen in humans. In their paper published in Proceedings ...

The real history of quantum biology

December 12, 2018

Quantum biology, a young and increasingly popular science genre, isn't as new as many believe, with a complicated and somewhat dark history, explain the founders of the world's first quantum biology doctoral training centre.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.