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Developing Real-Time PCR TaqMan(TM) instrumentation for Bee Health Diagnostics - HH3224SHB

The use of this technology would enable the high input and rapid routine surveillance for a range of bee pathogens. TaqManTM could also be used as a diagnostic tool to identify any undesirable sub-species of bees, for example, ‘Africanised’ bees. All this could eventually be done in “one hit” with TaqManTM.
Policy division would be provided with sound knowledge of the status of bee health in the country, and the threat posed by importing honeybee pathogens could be monitored. Based on OIE guidelines, the National Bee Unit is developing a formal surveillance programme to demonstrate that exotic pathogens are not already in the country. With an increase in the number of 3rd countries wishing to export bees to the UK, risk assessments have to be carried out. The confidence in these risk assessments will be significantly enhanced, by having a diagnostic tool, as it is important to statistically demonstrate that any exotic pathogens are not already indigenous.
When the gene sequences for resistant versus susceptible varroa mites have been sorted out, these too could be detected using TaqManTM.
Certain assays have been set up for some bee pathogens, but further assays need to be designed and validation is essential and this research would enable us to discover the full potential of using this technique in bee health diagnostics. Our ultimate aim is to develop tests for all major pathogens and parasites in honeybees. Specific genes need to be sequenced, where they do not exist already, and this can be achieved relatively easily.
At CSL, we have an experienced team in the Plant Health Group who have a lot of expertise with TaqManTM. The equipment is expensive, and funded by DEFRA, so it is important we make the best use of the investment. We also have links with workers in France (AFSSA) and other countries, who are looking into bee viruses.
As well as using the technology ourselves for DEFRA, we could exploit the TaqManTM expertise to offer a service to other countries, either in their wish to export to the UK from 3rd countries or with their own surveillance programmes.
The objective of this research is to investigate the possibility of using TaqManTM for the rapid identification of many actual and potential honeybee pathogens, including those under the Bees Act 1980, but also new diseases found abroad that might threaten the UK’s honeybee population. There is a need for statistically valid surveillance as part of a Risk Assessment for bee imports under the WTO agreement and this technique would help in this.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Developing Real-Time PCR TaqMan(TM) instrumentation for Bee Health Diagnostics   (340k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2003

Cost: £10,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Bee Health              
Biotech-non GM              
Disease Control              
Fields of Study