Virus Capable of Rapid Mutation May Contribute to Honeybee Epidemic

In 2006 researchers noted that honeybees, which are crucial to crop production, were dying at astounding rates. The phenomenon came to be known as “colony collapse disorder.” Yet, a new study, released by the academic journal mBio, suggests multiple factors may be to blame for the continuing honeybee epidemic, such as: pesticides; parasites; and, “a host of viruses.”

However, one virus in particular, the tobacco ringspot virus (TRV), “is the first known instance in which a virus jumped from pollen to bees.” TRV is an RNA virus; researchers find RNA viruses particularly disconcerting because they mutate rapidly in order to subvert a host’s immunological defenses. Other well-known RNA viruses include influenza, AIDS and certain hepatitis strains.

Read more here.

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