“The Varroa mite is the worst threat to honeybee health worldwide,” said Zachary Huang, MSU entomologist. “They have developed resistance to many pesticides, so it’s urgent that we explore and target these genes to develop better control methods.”
Earlier research has shown that a combination of dsRNAs can be fed to bees at the colony level. Varroa mites absorb the “genetic cocktail” via bee blood and their population was reduced. Future research will explore whether a single-gene approach can be scaled up and achieve the same effect at a colony-wide setting. Using a single gene with a known mechanism will be more cost effective and safe to the honeybees.