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Author Topic: New Genetic Varroa mite weapon?  (Read 3569 times)

Offline wd

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New Genetic Varroa mite weapon?
« on: January 13, 2011, 02:09:56 pm »
Anyone know more about this?

Quote: Researchers have developed a genetic technique which could revitalise the fight against the honeybee's worst enemy - the Varroa mite. The method enables researchers to "switch off" genes in the Varroa mite, a parasite that targets the honeybee. The scientists say this could eventually be used to force the mites to "self-destruct". The treatment is now at an early, experimental stage but could be developed into an anti-Varroa medicine.


Offline Jason

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Re: New Genetic Varroa mite weapon?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2011, 03:06:23 pm »
Hey wd,

The researchers that originally observed the process of RNAi (RNA interference) were recently given the Nobel prize.
RNAi has been used in multiple molecular biology techniques, mostly as diagnostic and research tools.  Recently some researchers are focusing on therapeutic uses for the technology (antivirals, and vaccines).  It looks like researchers are looking at RNAi for mite control.

RNAi are small single stranded oligos of RNA (ribo-nucleic acid, very similar to DNA) that range between 15-30 bases.  RNAi works by specifically attaching to targeted mRNA molecules (mRNA contains the information to make protein).  The RNAi oligo sequence can be made specific to only hybridize (bind to) to a specific mRNA.  When an RNAi molecule binds to an mRNA molecule it sets in motion a chain of enzymatic events in the cell.  The end result is the destruction of the mRNA molecule and therefore the protein the the mRNA codes for.  This mRNA destruction pathway is one way the cell normally controls protein expression.  Researchers can put the pathway into overdrive by providing additional RNAi to the cells (organism).

I figure the researchers would comb the apis and mite genomes (I think they are both finished now) looking for mRNA sequences that are divergent from each other in important genes needed for mite life.  The trick is to find RNAi's that only recognize mite sequence and not bee sequence.  Many important cellular genes are similar from organism to organism, but with the entire genome to compare I am positive differences will be found.  Also another thing to consider is multiple targets.  It would be feasible with RNAi to target multiple genes for protein expression knockdown.  With multiple targets it is less likely that resistance will be generated in the mite population.

The down side is that RNA is easily degraded.  So the half life would be low, but I guess for some that is a Plus.

If you have any other questions please ask.  I am a molecular biologist, not that that means much, but I don't have my bees yet ( I hope to start two hives in April) so this is the only question I can answer on a bee forum site right now :)

Offline Bee-Bop

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Re: New Genetic Varroa mite weapon?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2011, 02:57:02 pm »
I didn't understand a thing you wrote, how ever I am impressed !!   :)

Good luck in your planed beekeeping.

" If Your not part of the genetic solution of breeding mite-free bees, then You're part of the problem "

Offline indypartridge

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Re: New Genetic Varroa mite weapon?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2011, 08:00:44 am »
Last summer Dr. Keith Delaplane from Univ. Georgia spoke at our State Assn summer meeting and briefly mentioned how RNA silencing is a technique used to limit or turn off the harmful actions of a virus. Some success has been achieved in fighting some bee viruses using this technique, but it functions as a treatment, not an inheritable change in the bees, so treated bees can't pass along this virus protection future generations of bees.

Last Fall, Dr. Jamie Ellis (Univ Florida) was our guest, and he also touched upon this topic. He mentioned research into RNA-interference and the silencing of certain important genes. Researchers look for differences between the genomes of bees and pests such as Small Hive Beetle, and then look for ways to exploit those differences genetically. For example, if the genes which cause the SHB’s shell to harden could be turned off, their ability to survive would be seriously compromised. Jamie said real results in this line of research are probably ten years out, but it presents some promising opportunities.

I know a commercial beekeeper who is participating in a field study of some gene silencing treatments, so there may be some products hitting the marketplace in the not too distant future.