Nature May 21, 2015
Seven scientists give their opinions on the biggest challenges faced by bees and bee researchers.
Head of general zoology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Honeybees are declining in number across the Northern Hemisphere. There is broad consensus within the scientific community that their most serious threats are pathogenic microbes, particularly viruses, and the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, which transmits viruses while sucking the blood of the bee. A major challenge is to show whether Varroa mites also lower the immune response of the host bee to these viruses. Or do the mites provide an environment that selects for better-replicating or more-virulent viral variants? — or both.
Honeybees host more than 50 types of microbe, which next-generation sequencing technologies are helping us to explore. Researchers are ...