A team of students from Wageningen University & Research presented their idea for using bacteria to kill the destructive varroa mite that affects beehives at iGEM, a competition for synthetic biology held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. This mite is a pest to honey bees and is currently only controlled with chemical products. However, these chemicals are harmful to the bees as well. The students are working on a more precise method for combating this mite.
During the iGEM Jamboree which took place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 27 October until 31 October, student teams from across the world present their projects. Two years ago, the team from Wageningen University & Research was awarded second place for their research on a bacteria that controls a destructive fungus affecting bananas. The Jamboree is specially organised to stimulate research in the field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is a relatively new branch of science in which organisms are deliberately designed to serve a useful purpose. Synthetic biology is one of the strategic investment themes at Wageningen University & Research.
Team captain Thomas Swartjes, a Master's student in the Molecular Life Sciences programme explains that their method is based on the application of modified bacteria to the beehive. But he emphasises that their solution hasn't been completely finalised yet. ‘One summer is too short a period of time in which to complete such an ambitious project - especially to test it thoroughly,’ states Swartjes. ‘We have created a few parts that work well and that can be used by future research teams to develop a successful control method.’
Take a look at the project by the team from Wageningen University & Research on their website.