Bee Doctor: Next-generation approaches for diagnosing, monitoring and reversing declining bee health
Pollinator declines have serious consequences on the integrity of natural ecosystems and agricultural systems. The last decade of research has mostly focused on the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of pollinator declines. The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of pollinator declines are more difficult to study, because 1) many factors can contribute to declines 2) factors causing decline likely differ between populations, species, and over time. 3) Intensive studies are required to fully determine the cause of declines for any one population. 4) Declining species are often difficult to study in the field because they are rare.
The explosion of genomic resources for bees has now opened the door for the development of next-generation tools to diagnosis declines in the health of managed and native pollinators, in the same way that transcriptomics and proteomics can be used to diagnose human health. I will demonstrate how next generation sequence can be used to help understand the declines of managed honey bee populations and endangered bumble bee species.