Description: Introduction Bees are the most important pollinators on earth and may account for a substantial proportion of the food we eat and therefore also for our quality of life [1, 2]. Their importance for the abundance and variety of our diet makes it all the more disturbing that honeybee mortality has been increasing in almost all western countries for at least 30 years [3, 4]. Sometimes even whole bee colonies die in one winter, a phenomenon that has been termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The most important cause of CCD is the parasitic mite Varroa destructor. Current treatments In the Netherlands, the Varroa mite is now combatted by a year-round treatment with organic compounds that include Thymol, Formic acid and Oxalic acid. However, these compounds have to be applied strictly according to the provided instructions. Thymol, for instance, has a small concentration margin between killing the mites and harming bees. The hobbyist character of beekeeping has to be considered in the context of these treatments. Beekeepers might not have the time and resources to apply the treatments in the intended manner. Synthetic Biological Treatment We aim to create a new and better solution for the Varroa problem using synthetic biology. Our project would yield a product harmless to both humans and bees because we intend to use a Bacillus thuringiensis protein toxin to target Varroa. B. thuringiensis is known for the production of very specific insecticidal protein endotoxins. Multiple Bacillus strains have now been identified that target the Varroa mite. We will employ the toxins from these strains to relieve bee colonies from this most harmful parasite. In addition to the B. thuringiensis toxin, our synthetic biological system will contain systems to provide efficient production and release of the toxin and to provide users with a high level of control.
Collaboration details:
Year: 2016Visit Wiki
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Updated at: 8/9/16