World's first vaccine for honeybees approved for use by United States

Tags: Science and Technology International News

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the world's first insect vaccine, which has been developed to protect bees from a devastating bacterial disease.

An overview of the news

  • US researchers have developed a vaccine to target a disease called American foulbrood.

  • The disease is caused by Paenibacillus larval bacteria and once it reaches a bee population, it has the potential to completely destroy the colony.

  • Dalil Freitak of the University of Helsinki and his colleagues discovered an important egg yolk protein called vitellogenin.

  • This fundamental discovery laid the groundwork for a new type of insect vaccine, and the team's first target was honey bees.

Effectiveness of vaccine

  • The vaccine works by binding to the vitellogenin protein in inactivated bacterial cells so that when consumed by the queen bee it can be transferred directly to her larvae.

  • This vaccine is given to the queen bees in the form of royal jelly. She swallows it, and fragments of the vaccine get deposited in her ovaries.

  • After exposure to the vaccine, immunity develops in the developing larvae.

  • A successful clinical trial demonstrated that the vaccine is both safe and effective.

  • Progeny from a vaccinated queen bee are much less likely to contract bacterial disease.

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