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Researchers pinpoint pathogen that may cause honeybee deaths

Agriculture.com Staff 04/26/2007 @ 7:45am

Researchers have identified potential culprits behind the widespread catastrophic death of honeybees around North America and Europe. A team of scientists from Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) and University of California-San Francisco identified both a virus and a parasite that are likely behind the recent sudden die-off of honeybee colonies.

Using a new technology called the Integrated Virus Detection System (IVDS), which was designed for military use to rapidly screen samples for pathogens, ECBC scientists last week isolated the presence of viral and parasitic pathogens that may be contributing to the honeybee loss.

Confirmation testing was conducted over the weekend by scientists at the University of California-San Francisco. ECBC scientists presented the results of their studies this week to a USDA working group convened to determine next steps.

For the past year, experts have observed a marked decline in the honeybee population, with entire colonies collapsing without warning. Approximately 50% of hives have disappeared and researchers around the country are scrambling to find out why.

Scientists have termed this phenomenon "Colony Collapse Disorder" and fear that without honeybees to pollinate crops like fruits, vegetables and almonds, the loss of honeybees could have an enormous horticultural and economic impact around the world.

Researchers have identified potential culprits behind the widespread catastrophic death of honeybees around North America and Europe. A team of scientists from Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) and University of California-San Francisco identified both a virus and a parasite that are likely behind the recent sudden die-off of honeybee colonies.

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