As Plant Virus Jumps to Bees, Does it Cause Colony Collapse?

January 31, 2014

From: LiveScience

Jeff Nesbit

Jeff Nesbit was the director of public affairs for two prominent federal science agencies. This article was adapted from one that first appeared in U.S. News & World Report. Nesbit contributed the article to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Another potentially significant answer in the long-running mystery behind colony collapse disorder (CCD) may have just emerged: Researchers have found a virus that typically infects plants has been systemically infecting honeybees in the United States and China.

Researchers have studied bee colonies for years in an effort to discover the root causes for the collapse of millions of bee colonies — an ongoing problem with significant downstream ripple effects for large-scale agriculture and food production efforts.

It is now common and routine for researchers to screen bees in colonies for rare viruses. But in the process of screening, researchers at a federal research facility may have stumbled across a potential answer to the long-running CCD mystery; the scientists found a viral pathogen that typically infects plants spreading inside the bees.

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