Researching ways to combat the negative effects of pathogen spillover for commercial bees and products
Rowan, Neil J.
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Bees pollinate over 80% of the agricultural crops produced in Europe. Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) are used as a commercial pollinator for many agricultural crops globally(Commission, 2018). However there is evidence that commercial pollinators and the pollen they feed on can be contaminated with parasites (Graystock et al., 2013) which results in a spill over to native bee species (Graystock, Goulson and Hughes, 2015) such as Bombus terrestris.While parasites, viruses and mites may not be the sole cause of bee decline, there is growing evidence that they can act in synergy with pesticides to multiply the negative effects. There are other factors that contribute to the decline of bee colonies, such as climate change and habitat loss (Tong et al., 2018) (Runckel et al., 2011) (Reeves et al., 2018)(Peso et al., 2018), however, nutrient is a key factor in helping to negate some of the harmful effects of parasites and viruses (Cedrix Alaux, Christelle Dantec, Hughes Parrinello, 2011)(Huang, 2012) which is why ensuring good quality pollen that is parasite free is vital to the success of bees. Current methods to control the spread of parasites on pollen involves the use of gamma irradiation. This can be time consuming (25kGy for 9hrs 45mins)and involves transporting to and from a sterilizing facility as it can’t be carried out insitu (Simone-Finstromet al., 2018) . This also increases the risk factor of becoming contaminated again on the way back to colony. Pulse UV (PUV) is a system that uses short bursts of UV light to introduce irreparable damage to cellular organisms. It offers the benefits of been able to be housed insitu while also speeding up the process of reducing pathogen loads (Naughton et al., 2017) . However PUV has failed to show any efficacy of reducing the bioburden in pollen so far. We are currently exploring new methods to try reduce microbial loads in commercial pollen.
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