“There’s buzz about a new treatment that could save bee populations from a deadly virus.
Researchers at the University of Manitoba have found a way to suppress the deformed-wing virus (DWV), which has had catastrophic effects on bee colonies worldwide, causing many to have crumpled or deformed wings.
Entomology PhD student Suresh Desai fed his bees double-stranded RNA, a treatment that prevented the virus from expressing itself in the host.
“It gives us a little bit of hope that we can manage this virus, because there is no control mechanism right now,” he said.
The study, published online on Insect Molecular Biology on June 12, showed bees fed the double-stranded RNA in a syrup and then inoculated with the virus had a much better survival rate than those who weren’t. RNA is much like DNA, but is in a single strand. It carries the genetic material of some viruses, including DWV. RNA is taken from the DWV and then converted into a double strand. When introduced in the bee, it suppresses the viral RNA.”
I find it fascinating that the dsRNA that we as plant virologists grew to know and love in the 1980s – because it’s easier to isolate from plants than ssRNA, and far more stable – has newly become so much more useful as an anti-viral therapeutic. And you can isolate a tonne of dsRNA from virus-infected insects, too, so it’s also interesting why exogenous material should be effective.
See on www.winnipegfreepress.com