Fighting deadly honeybee fungus with student created probiotic

By The Canadian Press with files from
January 3, 2019 - 11:50am

EDMONTON --   Students at the University of Alberta have created a probiotic that could help save the local honeybee population.

Many of us know our bees need help, and a team of students at the University of Alberta set out to understand the problem and do something about it—and took home a first place prize in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition against more than 300 university teams

Julia Heaton, a science student at the university, says she and her team have genetically engineered a new medicine that will fight a parasitic fungus called Nosema.

The fungus plagues the digestive systems of honeybees and is deadly enough to wipe out entire hives. Bees in cold climates, such as in Canada and specifically Alberta, have been shown to be even more vulnerable to the fungus.

The only existing treatment for Nosema—a fungicide called fumagillin—has been discontinued, making the problem even more critical.

In 2016, Alberta produced more than 40 per cent of the country's honey, valued at roughly 60 million dollars.

More information about APIS and the 2018 UAlberta iGEM team project can been accessed at the team’s project website.



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