Honeybees, Colony Collapse Disorder, Deformed Wing Virus, Immunoglobin Y, IgY
Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Honeybees are widely recognized as a vital part of the global ecosystem and the world's food supply due to their pivotal role in the pollination of both natural and agricultural flora. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is an emerging phenomenon characterized by a colony's worker bees deserting a hive and leaving the queen behind, which usually results in colony failure. While this is a multifactorial issue, Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) has been identified as the leading cause in this phenomenon. Honeybees do not have any innate immunity against this virus and lack an adaptive immune system. In the research being presented, DWV was treated using a novel antibody therapy. White leghorn hens, which are known to produce Immunoglobin Y (IgY) in the yolks of their eggs, were vaccinated against the DWV pathogen. The harvested egg yolks were then diluted and purified to produce a concentrated IgY solution specific to DWV. This purified IgY, along with DWV challenge, was added to honeybee feed diet and orally administered to 1st instar honeybee larvae that were grafted into queen cups from a hive and reared in-vitro. Experimental results revealed that larvae exposed to a 1:10 dilution of DWV challenge experienced 79% mortality by day 5. However, larvae that were administered feed containing a 1:10 dilution of DWV challenge and a 1:100 dilution of DWV IgY antibody experienced just 29% mortality by day 5. Day 5 control (feed only) death was 25%. These results suggest that IgY antibody provides honeybee larvae with approximately 50% protection against DWV - a figure that would significantly reduce CCD. This technology could have a profound impact on the future of beekeeping - an industry that may be the key to the global food sustainability crisis.
Nordseth, Tanner, "IgY Antibody Immunotherapy for Deformed Wing Virus in Western Honeybees (Apis Mellifera)" (2020). IdeaFest. 6.