Submitted to: Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 30, 2007
Publication Date: September 1, 2007
Citation: Evans, J.D. 2007. Bee path: an ordered quantitative-pcr array for honey bee immunity and disease. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 93:135-139.
Interpretive Summary: Honey bees face several major disease agents, increasing management costs through the need for chemical treatments and causing colony losses that negatively impact both beekeepers and those dependent on bees for pollination. Bacterial and fungal pests are widespread and the cause of diseases such as American and European foulbrood, Nosema disease and chalkbrood. A longstanding goal for bee research is to breed bees that are resistant to these pests. This goal been helped greatly through the genetic insights of the Honey Bee Genome Project. In order to take advantage of these insights, new tools are needed to determine gene activity levels in response to disease. The described tool does this, by measuring a number of genes involved in honey bee immunity while simultaneously screening for the presence of the primary bee disease agents. This method will help researchers determine which genes are the strongest candidates for breeding bees that resist disease, helping to reduce the reliance of U.S. agriculture on antibiotics and other chemical treatments.
Honey bees and other social insects serve as excellent models for understanding the evolution of group- and individual-level disease responses. Honey bees, in particular, face many important parasites and pathogens against which they have evolved behavioral, morphological, physiological, and immune-based defenses. Numerous candidate genes related to honey bee immunity have been generated by the Honey Bee Genome Project and other recent efforts. In an effort to validate these genes and determine their responsiveness to pathogens, a quantitative-PCR array was developed to measure transcript levels for 48 honey bee and pathogen genes in parallel. It is shown that this array can accurately measure transcript abundance, providing a new tool for assessing the environmental and genetic components behind honey bee immunity. By using common platforms and chemistries (e.g., SYBR-Green intercalating dye), quantitative-PCR arrays such as the one described should have diverse uses in molecular ecology.