Fungus research could be good news for bees

Labmate Online features work on fungus as an insecticide, by a team including Prof Tariq Butt and Dr Miranda Whitten of Swansea University

Investigating insect pathogenic fungi as a safe and natural alternative to chemical pesticides scientists from Swansea University, along with colleagues in Russia and Germany, have carried out studies* on a species of moth which is a pest in bee hives. This involved exposing 25 successive generations of the moth to a fungus called Beauveria bassiana.  They analysed the moths’ reactions to see if they built up resistance, but they also looked at other factors such as stress.

Dr Miranda Whitten from the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University said: “The big question with any pest control is whether insects will become resistant. Our research with fungi clearly shows that while insects do build up resistance, there is a very big price to pay.  Most importantly, they can’t breed as well.  Having their immune system on a high state of alert may be damaging to them, plus there is some evidence that they are more vulnerable to other infections.  Also the increased resistance applies only to that one fungus.

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