Immunity, Genes and Bees

Dave Armstrong, Earthtimes.

Bumblebee genomes are less commercial than that of the honeybee, but have just proved to be remarkably similar. What does this say about the immune-related genes within the bee spectrum? We care about our crops and our flowers, the insects that cater to them and the wildlife aspects of bee roles within ecosystems. So therefore this revelation that all bees share a similar resistance to disease gives us great insight into why exactly our pollination problems are building up. The workers for this paper on A depauperate immune repertoire precedes evolution of sociality in bees were Seth M Barribeau of both East Carolina University, US, and the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zurich, Switzerland and dozens of colleagues throughout Europe and the US. They publish in Genome Biology.

2 species of Bombus, B. terrestris(European) and B. impatiens(North American), now show that limited anti-immune response is not limited to the most social insects and could be 105 million years old, when the solitary bee, Megachile, appeared, or even stretch back to the great split from the ants (which also have low numbers of anti-immune responses.)

The importance of immune genes is so great that they could even have been associated with these great events in insect evolution.Fairly obviously, the extreme cleanliness of bees leads to some conclusions as to how lack of immunity is combatted in reality. Hygiene is unusual in animals, and the bees’ levels of nest maintenance and mutual grooming could both help and hinder immunities from disease, parasitic infections and various effects on colonies based on individual life-history. Sociality is a big plus for cooperative working such as that found in all hymenopterans. The dangers are known to humans and other primates, as we also have the high population densities that create most problems.

In conclusion, the honey bees, bumble bees and even solitary bees are almost the same in restricting their anti-immune genes. However, the current selection processes that operate in these species work against a chemical background of insecticidal clouds and systemic plant dangers. This seems to have produced many different pressures in the honey bees compared to the bumbles. Our concern should be how we can aid the recovery, or even the survival of some of these species. They have suffered from almost every insecticide from organophosphates until the neonicotinoids, and survived! This spread of more and more noxious attacks on pollinators will lead to drops in agricultural production and possibly even loss of whole crops unless regulation arrives on the scene. The days of the cowboy farmer have gone in most countries. Now is the time of the scientist farmer whose knowledge could just see us through to the next phase of agricultural advance. One such example of new developments around a much safer spider venom pesticide was revealed in Saving bees with a new pesticide.