Huang and team are closer to genetic solutions for Varroa mites decimating bees

Michigan State University entomologist Zachary Huang was part of a team of MSU scientists that found genes in Varroa mites that could potentially be exploited to reduce or eliminate the pest.

August 15, 2017 - By Cameron Macko, IPM Communications Assistant

Michigan State University entomologist Zachary Huang was part of a team of MSU scientists that found genes in Varroa mites that could potentially be exploited to reduce or eliminate the pest. The team’s results, published in the current issue of Insect Science, have identified four genes critical for survival and two that directly affect reproduction.

“The Varroa mite is the worst threat to honey bee health worldwide,” Huang said. “They have developed resistance to many pesticides, so it’s urgent that we explore and target these genes to develop better control methods.”

The mite sucks the blood of honey bees and transmits deadly viruses. Its lifecycle consists of two phases: one where they feed on adult bees, called the phoretic phase, and a reproductive phase that takes place within a sealed honeycomb cell, where the mites lay eggs on a developing bee larva.

Having the double-whammy of eating bees and spreading disease makes Varroa mites the number-one suspect of honey bee population declines worldwide.

Read the full story at MSU Today: “Varroa mites – bees’ archenemies – have genetic holes in their armor". 

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