Researchers Identify Virus Associated with Honey Bee Deaths

September 13, 2007
Patricia Van Arnum
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

454 Life Sciences, part of Roche, and researchers at Columbia University identified a virus associated with the deaths of 2.4 million honey bee colonies.

Branford, CT (Sept. 6)-454 Life Sciences, part of Roche (Basel, Switzerland), and researchers at Columbia University (New York) identified a virus associated with the deaths of 2.4 million honey bee colonies.

The findings explain how foreign organisms living in and among the bees were identified by reading sequences of DNA isolated from the bee colonies. The research identified five major bacterial groups, four lineages of fungi, and seven types of viruses. While most of the foreign organisms were found in both collapsed and healthy bee colonies, one virus, Israeli acute paralysis paralysis virus was found only in the collapsed colonies. Findings were reported in an online article of Science, according to a 454 Life Sciences press release.   

“Unbiased 454 Sequencing technology enabled us to rapidly assemble a comprehensive inventory of microflora in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and non-CCD populations, and provided the sequence information needed to identify candidate pathogens,” said  Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in a 454 Life Science release. “We view this work as a model for investigating epidemics of unexplained infectious disease.” Lipkin and his research team sequenced DNA and RNA samples that were extracted from collapsing and healthy bee colonies in search of any pathogen responsible for the collapse.