Bears assist in bee colony death investigation

The NPR blog published an interesting report about research now taking place to solve the mysterious death of entire bee colonies in the United States.

Partially dissected bees

Partially dissected honeybees are seen at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory, in this April 25, 2007 file photo taken in Beltsville, Md.

In the past few years bee colonies around the United States have just been dying. And what has been killing them off has been a mystery. But now a collaboration between civilian and military researchers may shed new light on “colony collapse disorder” or CCD.

In a paper today published in the online journal PLoS One researchers at the University of Montana and at the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center joined forces to address a problem neither could have solved on their own.They found that a virus and a fungus work together in hives with CCD. From the New York Times report.

Research at the University of California, San Francisco, had already identified the fungus as part of the problem. And several RNA-based viruses had been detected as well. But the Army/Montana team, using a new software system developed by the military for analyzing proteins, uncovered a new DNA-based virus, and established a linkage to the fungus, called N. ceranae.

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