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Researchers Uncover Varroa Mite Weakness
Finally, Good News for Honeybees...


The Varroa mite is perhaps best known for its contributions to colony collapse disorder in honeybees. This image, taken with a scanning electron microscope, shows one of the parasitic mites on its honeybee host.

Varroa destructor is an appropriate name for the Varroa mite, a tiny parasite that attaches to honeybees. The mites lay eggs on honeybee larva and feed on adult honeybee hemolymph (the invertebrate equivalent to blood). They transmit diseases and viruses to the bees, and are generally considered a primary cause of colony collapse disorder. Most have a strong resistance to pesticides, making them difficult to control.

A group of researchers, led by Michigan State University, have identified six key genes that contribute to Varroa mite mortality and control reproduction. Interference with these genes using double-stranded RNA could reduce the spread of the mite and help honeybee populations recover.

Earlier research has indicated that bees can be fed double-stranded RNA. The Varroa mites are affected when they feed on the bees' hemolymph, and as a result, the mite population was reduced.

The next step is to determine whether interference with a single gene instead of multiple genes will have the same effect.

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August 20, 2019, 3:54 am PDT

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