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