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sector_ico_Agrifood_trans Agrifood

Next-generation Integrated Pest Management tools for beekeeping

  • Project Leaders: Leonard Foster, Stephen Pernal
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $5774488
  • Program/Competition: Large Scale Applied Research Programs
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Status: Closed

Bees play a major role in agriculture as pollinators of crops. Over the past few years, North American beekeepers have lost colonies at an alarming rate. This project aimed to develop new Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools to identify disease-resistant bees as well as new treatments tailored to bee pathogens.  This project identified: 1) honey bee stock with natural disease resistance selected using molecular fingerprints, 2) treatments for bee diseases that should be absolutely specific for the pathogens using RNA interference-based technology, and 3) best-practices guidelines for IPM based on existing and newly developed tools.  Most importantly, the researchers found that by measuring the molecular fingerprints of bees, they can accurately select bees that are resistant to disease and then breed those bees to create a new generation that is even more resistant. The team is working with commercial bee breeders to implement these new tests in the industry. A successful LSARP 2014 Genomics and Feeding the Future application will allow the team to continue this project with new cross-Canada collaborations.