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Researchers receive $1.14 million to study threats to honey bees
Date:4/4/2014

Scientists in the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State received three grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation to study various threats to honey bees, including disease, pesticides and the extinction and invasion of other species into their habitats.

Investigating Disease

A team of scientists that includes Christina Grozinger, associate professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, will use a $467,000 grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine and develop tools to mitigate the effects of a gut parasite, Nosema ceranae, that negatively impacts honey bees and has been linked to colony losses.

"Honey bees play a vital role in the agricultural system because they pollinate about 75 percent of our major global crops, including nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and nuts," said Grozinger. "The microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae is widespread throughout the United States and the world. This parasite interferes with the digestive system and metabolic function of honey bees, leading to increased mortality of individual bees, which in turn can profoundly impact the social structure and health of the colony. This parasite is regarded as a key threat to bee health and has been implicated in alarming colony losses."

Grozinger and her colleagues, including scientists at the USDA's Bee Research Laboratory and the University of Kentucky, will use genomic and genetic techniques to improve the current understanding of how Nosema ceranae infects bees and spreads throughout their colonies. They will characterize the genes that enable this parasite to invade honey bee tissues, and use this information to develop specific therapeutics to reduce the parasite's virulence and the host's susceptibility to infection.

Poring Over Pesticides

Scientists in the Center for Pollinator Research will investigate the effects of pe
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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