MSU researchers spread the buzz about bee viruses

August 26, 2016

From: Montana State University

By Marshall Swearingen for the MSU News Service

BOZEMAN — Researchers at Montana State University have published an informational paper in a scholarly journal summarizing what’s known about the role that viruses play in honey bee health.

Co-authored by Michelle Flenniken, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology in MSU’s College of Agriculture, and two MSU graduate students, the article, “The buzz about honey bee viruses,” was published Aug. 18 in the journal PLoS Pathogens, which publishes “outstanding original research and commentary that significantly advances the understanding of pathogens and how they interact with their host organisms,” according to the journal website.

The article’s release came two days ahead of National Honey Bee Day, which was declared in 2010 by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to further awareness of the important role that honey bees play in the food system and the threats the pollinators face, including from pathogens such as the viruses studied by the Flenniken lab.

“This is an exciting time in honey bee virology,” the authors write in the paper, adding that the study of bee viruses is “a rapidly growing field currently in its infancy.”

More than a dozen viruses circulate within and between honey bee colonies. Several viruses can be transmitted among multiple bee species, including bumble bees, and some viruses are carried by parasitic mites, for example, Varroa destructor.

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