Friday, February 17, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Ingrid Findlay, Brevard High School, Brevard, NC
Selina Brown, Brevard High School, Brevard, NC
Pollination is essential to global food production and is reliant on both wild and managed insect populations. Among the most important and valuable of these pollinators are honey bees. Recently honey bees have been the focus of a myriad of international studies as researchers attempt to determine a definitive cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). While the condition itself is very serious, many hives will not be victims of CCD, but rather have a much greater chance of contracting a variety of other diseases and pathogens. One such parasite, Nosema, has emerged in recent years as one of the most virulent pathogens known to afflict honey bees. There are currently two species of Nosema known to affect honey bees-Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae-and one treatment protocol -- the administration of an antibiotic called Fumagillin. Using honey bee gut samples collected during a study in the previous year (2014), a new study was conducted to evaluate the Nosema species present in Transylvania County honey bee hives. With regard to what is known of the resilience and evolution of one particular strain, Nosema ceranae, it was hypothesized that Nosema ceranae would be more prevalent than Nosema apis in local honey bee hives. The method used to confirm this hypothesis was a combination of DNA extraction, amplification techniques (PCR) and gel electrophoresis. Although the clarity of the gels varied, the results were consistent, and DNA analysis confirmed that all six of the hives tested contained Nosema ceranae, and that none were contaminated by the Nosema apis strain. The completion of these experiments indicates that differentiation of the two Nosema species is feasible using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and will produce accurate results. Through experimentation, it can also be reasoned that bead beating the samples during the DNA extraction process prior to DNA amplification proved more effective in that they yielded greater quantities of DNA and thus improved the clarity of the end product (gels). While more testing is likely needed to confirm the findings of this study and prove the significance of these results, some relevance can currently be drawn. While fumagillin has existed as the single means of Nosema prevention (in particular, Nosema apis), recent findings suggest that the application of fumagillin to a hive may exacerbate an already present Nosema ceranae infection. These results, indicating an increased local presence of Nosema ceranae, signify that the administration of fumagillin to hives in Transylvania County may warrant reconsideration.