International Bee Research Association (IBRA) Facebook Post January 19, 2016
Honey bees, in common with other insects, rely on a mixture of strategies to defend themselves against pathogens: -
(1) physical barriers
(2) immunity mediated by the cell
(3) and non-cellular mediated humoral immunity
This last is a complex network of pathways, which when triggered, activate a variety of humoral factors, including production of anti-microbial proteins (AMPs).
Honey bees have four main classes of AMPs and how they are activated and work is examined, along with molecular regulation of AMPs in this review paper.
For example, AMPs harm invading pathogens either by making their membranes leaky or impeding the manufacture of their proteins, thereby protecting the infected honey bee.
This is a review paper so pulls together many recent papers on the knowledge of bee immunity into a handy single report. This is an exciting area of bee research and the authors, including Journal of Apicultural Research’s Associate Editor Kate Aronstein, have attempted to discuss how AMPs are activated and how they help bees deal with pathogens, pesticides and other environmental stressors.
What difference does it make to me?
Until recently, we knew comparatively little about bee immunity. Indeed, when researchers worked out the honey bee genome surprise was expressed about how few immunity genes bees possessed.
One interesting point they raise is that researchers have found that Varroa suppresses these defensive AMPs which leaves the bees less able to resist pathogens. Equally, Nosema and some viral infections may also suppress bee immune responses but these are complex relationships.
Much still needs to be understood and the full impact of using newer molecular techniques such RNA interference studies and proteinomics will hopefully reveal yet more understanding and (hopefully) help us discover solutions.
Find the paper here (sadly not free to view): http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00218839.2015.1109919
Free to subscribers of the Journal of Apicultural Research.
Varroa destructor on a developing bee.
Photo Credit: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS Bugwood.org
Read at: International Bee Research Association (IBRA) Facebook Post