For an insightful look at the effect of virus on bee pollination, check out Michelle Flenniken’s article.
The article describes the work of three Montana State University graduate students who presented at an international pollinator research conference. The students highlighted research that showed the impact of Lake Sinai viruses, which have been discovered in bee colonies internationally, including Montana, and are associated with significant colony loss.
This colony loss, on the average of 33% per year is a concern for “scientists” and “people who care about food security” according to the article.
One of the researchers, Laura Brutscher, investigates which genes are expressed when the bee is infected with a pathogen, helping to understand how they fight off the virus at the cellular level.
The article includes a link to additional pollinator research occurring at Montana State University, which educators might find helpful for additional enrichment information. It includes excellent research reports including a bee identification guide- very cool! Biology and Ecology teachers will find this information especially helpful.
Questions for Discussion
- What are the Lake Sinai viruses?
- What are the implications of colony loss for food security?
- What is the process of pollination?
- What was the hypothesis that Laura Brutscher investigated?
- How do you imagine this data was actually collected?
- According to the additional information from the pollinator research link at Montana State University what are some “pollinator friendly plants?”
- What implications can you imagine for studying how bees immune systems respond to viruses?
- What else does this inspire you to “dream, learn, do?”