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.
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