Bee die-off perplexes scientists

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Postby kristinerosemary » Tue Apr 24, 2007 6:42 pm

new york times had this dateline beltsville maryland april 23


The volume of theories “is totally mind-boggling,” said Diana Cox-Foster, an entomologist at Pennsylvania State University. With Jeffrey S. Pettis, an entomologist from the United States Department of Agriculture, Dr. Cox-Foster is leading a team of researchers ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/scien ... .html?8dpc
Honeybees - Bees Vanish, and Scientists Race for Reasons - New York Times
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Postby Jeff » Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:34 am

Taiwan, too:

Taiwan stung by millions of missing bees

April 26

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's bee farmers are feeling the sting of lost business and possible crop danger after millions of the honey-making, plant-pollinating insects vanished during volatile weather, media and experts said on Thursday.

Over the past two months, farmers in three parts of Taiwan have reported most of their bees gone, the Chinese-language United Daily News reported. Taiwan's TVBS television station said about 10 million bees had vanished in Taiwan.

A beekeeper on Taiwan's northeastern coast reported 6 million insects missing "for no reason", and one in the south said 80 of his 200 bee boxes had been emptied, the paper said.

Beekeepers usually let their bees out of boxes to pollinate plants and the insects normally make their way back to their owners. However, many of the bees have not returned over the past couple of months.

Possible reasons include disease, pesticide poisoning and unusual weather, varying from less than 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) to more than 30 degrees Celsius over a few days, experts say.

"You can see climate change really clearly these days in Taiwan," said Yang Ping-shih, entomology professor at the National Taiwan University. He added that two kinds of pesticide can make bees turn "stupid" and lose their sense of direction.

As affected beekeepers lose business, fruit growers may lack a key pollination source and neighbors might get stung, he said.

Billions of bees have fled hives in the United States since late 2006, instead of helping pollinate $15 billion worth of fruits, nuts and other crops annually. Disappearing bees also have been reported in Europe and Brazil.

The mass buzz-offs are isolated cases so far, a Taiwan government Council of Agriculture official said.

But the council may collect data to study the causes of the vanishing bees and gauge possible impacts, said Kao Ching-wen, a pesticides section chief at the council.

"We want to see what the reason is, and we definitely need some evidence," Kao said. "It's hard to say whether there will be an impact."

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Postby nomo » Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:14 pm

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/ ... 0276.shtml

Destructive Mite Threatens Hawaii Bees

HONOLULU, Apr. 26, 2007(AP) A tiny mite that has devastated mainland honeybee populations showed up in Honolulu hives for the first time this month and has now been confirmed in bee colonies across Oahu.

The infestation by varroa mites has led the state to ask beekeepers to restrict transport of bees around the islands. There are concerns it could threaten the Big Island's thriving queen bee export industry, which has so far tested free of the mites.

"This is going to be for us a nightmare," said Michael Kliks, head of the Hawaii Beekeepers' Association and owner of Manoa Honey Co. "When I saw that mite I knew exactly what it was. I knew exactly what it meant and I fell to my knees and almost began to weep because it's inexpressible what that sea change is for us in Hawaii."

The parasites are blamed for destroying more than half of some mainland beekeepers' hives and wiping out most wild honeybees there.

Kliks discovered the mites April 6 on a pupa contained in an abandoned hive he recovered from the Makiki section of Honolulu and immediately notified state agriculture officials.

Since then the mites have been confirmed in hives in Waimanalo, Ewa, Kunia, Kahaluu and Punaluu.

Hives are still being checked elsewhere on Oahu but it is too late to hope to eradicate or even contain the infestation, Kliks said.

"The only thing we can try and do is keep the levels of infestation in our managed colonies below what's called the threshold level ... so that we can still produce honey. But keeping it at that level will certainly require quite regular, heavy application of permitted pesticides," he said.

That may mean the end of certified organic honey production on the island.

The appearance of the mites could also hurt island crops that depend on wild bees for pollination, such as coffee, macadamia nuts and pumpkins, Kliks said.

Originally from Asia, varroa mites were first discovered in Wisconsin and Florida in 1987. By the next year, the mites were found in 12 states and have since spread throughout the continental U.S.

The pinhead-sized insects, which are spread through contact between bees, feed off the blood of honeybee adults, larvae and pupae.

Bees cannot legally be imported into Hawaii, and officials do not know how the mites made it to the state.

Beekeepers are being asked not to move their bees between islands or even within the same island. Once authorities have confirmed where the mites have spread, they can then work on a possible quarantine for bees throughout the state, said Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture.

"But you know a bee flies. So that's the wild card," she said.








http://www.newsday.com/news/health/la-s ... -headlines

Experts may have found what's bugging the bees
A fungus that hit hives in Europe and Asia may be partly to blame for wiping out colonies across the U.S.

By Jia-Rui Chong and Thomas H. Maugh II
Times Staff Writers

April 26, 2007

A fungus that caused widespread loss of bee colonies in Europe and Asia may be playing a crucial role in the mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder that is wiping out bees across the United States, UC San Francisco researchers said Wednesday.

Researchers have been struggling for months to explain the disorder, and the new findings provide the first solid evidence pointing to a potential cause.

But the results are "highly preliminary" and are from only a few hives from Le Grand in Merced County, UCSF biochemist Joe DeRisi said. "We don't want to give anybody the impression that this thing has been solved."

Other researchers said Wednesday that they too had found the fungus, a single-celled parasite called Nosema ceranae, in affected hives from around the country — as well as in some hives where bees had survived. Those researchers have also found two other fungi and half a dozen viruses in the dead bees.

N. ceranae is "one of many pathogens" in the bees, said entomologist Diana Cox-Foster of Pennsylvania State University. "By itself, it is probably not the culprit … but it may be one of the key players."

Cox-Foster was one of the organizers of a meeting in Washington, D.C., on Monday and Tuesday where about 60 bee researchers gathered to discuss Colony Collapse Disorder.

"We still haven't ruled out other factors, such as pesticides or inadequate food resources following a drought," she said. "There are lots of stresses that these bees are experiencing," and it may be a combination of factors that is responsible.

Historically, bee losses are not unusual. Weather, pesticide exposures and infestations by pests, such as the Varroa mite, have wiped out significant numbers of colonies in the past, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.

But the current loss appears unprecedented. Beekeepers in 28 states, Canada and Britain have reported large losses. About a quarter of the estimated 2.4 million commercial colonies across the United States have been lost since fall, said Jerry Hayes of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Gainesville.

"These are remarkable and dramatic losses," said Hayes, who is also president of the Apiary Inspectors of America.

Besides producing honey, commercial beehives are used to pollinate a third of the country's agricultural crops, including apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, cherries, strawberries and pumpkins. Ninety percent of California's almond crop is dependent on bees, and a loss of commercial hives could be devastating.

"For the most part, they just disappeared," said Florida beekeeper Dave Hackenberg, who was among the first to note the losses. "The boxes were full of honey. That was the mysterious thing. Usually other bees will rob those hives out. But nothing had happened."

Researchers now think the foraging bees are too weak to return to their hives.

DeRisi and UCSF's Don Ganem, who normally look for the causes of human diseases, were brought into the bee search by virologist Evan W. Skowronski of the U.S. Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland.

Dr. Charles Wick of the center had used a new system of genetic analysis to identify pathogens in ground-up bee samples from California. He found several viruses, including members of a recently identified genus called iflaviruses.

It is not known whether these small, RNA-containing viruses, which infect the Varroa mite, are pathogenic to bees.

Skowronski forwarded the samples to DeRisi, who also found evidence of the viruses, along with genetic material from N. ceranae.

"There was a lot of stuff from Nosema, about 25% of the total," Skowronski said. "That meant there was more than there was bee RNA. That leads me to believe that the bee died from that particular pathogen."

If N. ceranae does play a role in Colony Collapse Disorder, there may be some hope for beekeepers.

A closely related parasite called Nosema apis, which also affects bees, can be controlled by the antibiotic fumagillin, and there is some evidence that it will work on N. ceranae as well.
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Postby judasdisney » Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:14 pm

UCSF scientist tracks down suspect in honeybee deaths
Sabin Russell, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 26, 2007


A UCSF researcher who found the SARS virus in 2003 and later won a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" for his work thinks he has discovered a culprit in the alarming deaths of honeybees across the United States.

Tests of genetic material taken from a "collapsed colony" in Merced County point to a once-rare microbe that previously affected only Asian bees but might have evolved into a strain lethal to those in Europe and the United States, biochemist Joe DeRisi said Wednesday.

DeRisi said tests conducted on material from dead bees at his Mission Bay lab found genes of the single-celled, spore-producing parasite Nosema ceranae, which researchers in Spain have recently shown is capable of wiping out a beehive.

"It is wise to strike a conservative note, because this is early data, but it is interesting,'' he said.

Government scientists who have been tracking the phenomenon they call Colony Collapse Disorder were skeptical, however, saying the parasite had been an early suspect in the bee die-off but that they had concluded it probably was not responsible.

With a mounting sense of urgency, agricultural scientists are trying to find out just what has caused the disappearance of as much as a quarter of the nation's 2.4 million honeybee colonies since November, when the die-off was first observed by a Pennsylvania beekeeper.

It's not just bad news for beekeepers and honey lovers. Growers of fruits, nuts and many vegetables rely on honeybees to pollinate their crops, which contribute $15 billion to the nation's agricultural output, according to a Cornell University study.

DeRisi is a specialist in the rapid identification of killer germs. In March 2003, he played a key role in helping the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify the cause of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, the viral illness that claimed 774 lives and wreaked havoc for a time on the Asian economy.

Using a laboratory tool called a microarray -- which can instantly match a sample to gene sequences from more than a thousand viruses -- he found that SARS was caused by a previously unknown variant of coronavirus, a microbial family responsible for a variety of ailments including the common cold.

The following year, he was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, the prize given by the foundation to individuals who have no idea they were nominated until they win. The awards are popularly known as genius grants.

In researching the bee die-offs, DeRisi's team evaluated samples of potential bee pathogens supplied by the Army's biodefense laboratory, the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Scientists there had developed a technique to concentrate possible pathogens into a sample that could be run through a rapid genetic screen test such as DeRisi's. Samples taken from dead bees in a collapsed colony from Le Grand (Merced County) were shipped via overnight mail to DeRisi's San Francisco lab last week.

DeRisi used a technique that allows rapid reading of the genetic code of the suspect bug. It is the same approach, known as "shotgun sequencing," that has been used to read the genomes, or the genetic code, of creatures ranging from bacteria to human beings.

The strips of genetic code are then matched to computerized libraries of known genes from thousands of germs. It was this test that pinpointed Nosema ceranae.

"The bees must have been loaded with this stuff,'' said DeRisi, who collaborated in the experiment with Dr. Donald Ganem of the UCSF Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Fueling the UCSF scientists' interest in the parasite is a recent paper, published by the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology in January, in which a team of Spanish researchers infected hives of European honeybees with Nosema ceranae. Within eight days, the colonies were wiped out.

The federal government's leading honeybee scientists, however, are not ready to conclude that DeRisi has found anything significant. Jeffery Pettis, research leader for the U.S. Agriculture Department's Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., said reports suggesting that this parasite has recently appeared in the United States are simply wrong. "There are historical samples from the mid-1990s,'' he said.

Before then, the parasite was seldom seen outside Asia, where it favored a species of honeybee found only there. It did not cause colony collapse in Asia.

Now, Pettis said, tests have shown that Nosema ceranae has displaced a related strain that had been the dominant form of the parasite in the United States, Pettis said. However, large quantities of the microbe have been found in bee colonies that are healthy, as well as in those that have collapsed, he said.

Pettis said the parasite could simply be taking advantage of a newly developed weakness in the insects' immune systems. "Mostly we think of Nosema as a stress disorder of honeybees,'' he said.

It is possible that a more virulent strain of Nosema ceranae has evolved in the United States, but Pettis doubts it. "We can't rule it out completely,'' he said.

Evan Skowronski, senior team leader for biosciences at the Army lab and a friend of DeRisi's, said that because the stake are high, every important lead in the search for the cause of the honeybee deaths needs to be pursued.

"We're not ready to say this is it, but it is a pathogen of interest,'' he said.

Skowronski said there is no reason to think that the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder is "anything other than Mother Nature.'' However, he said that any natural threat to honeybees has major implications for the United States. "This needs a high level of attention,'' he said.

DeRisi agreed that more tests will be needed to prove or disprove the parasite's role in the disappearance of the bees.

"In our results, the control bees did not have it, and the sick ones were loaded with the stuff,'' he said. "It is going to take a lot of time to figure out.''
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Postby Seamus OBlimey » Tue May 01, 2007 4:10 pm

Bumble Bee flying happily on January 9th

"If i shut my eyes and put the deckchair out it would be easy to imagine it was an early May day"
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Postby judasdisney » Thu May 03, 2007 5:56 am

Honeybee die-off threatens food supply
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
Wed May 2, 10:49 PM ET

Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of the nation's honeybees could have a devastating effect on America's dinner plate, perhaps even reducing us to a glorified bread-and-water diet.

Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.

"This is the biggest general threat to our food supply," Hackett said.

While not all scientists foresee a food crisis, noting that large-scale bee die-offs have happened before, this one seems particularly baffling and alarming.

U.S. beekeepers in the past few months have lost one-quarter of their colonies — or about five times the normal winter losses — because of what scientists have dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder. The problem started in November and seems to have spread to 27 states, with similar collapses reported in Brazil, Canada and parts of Europe.

Scientists are struggling to figure out what is killing the honeybees, and early results of a key study this week point to some kind of disease or parasite.

Even before this disorder struck, America's honeybees were in trouble. Their numbers were steadily shrinking, because their genes do not equip them to fight poisons and disease very well, and because their gregarious nature exposes them to ailments that afflict thousands of their close cousins.

"Quite frankly, the question is whether the bees can weather this perfect storm," Hackett said. "Do they have the resilience to bounce back? We'll know probably by the end of the summer."

Experts from Brazil and Europe have joined in the detective work at USDA's bee lab in suburban Washington. In recent weeks, Hackett briefed Vice President Cheney's office on the problem. Congress has held hearings on the matter.

"This crisis threatens to wipe out production of crops dependent on bees for pollination," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a statement.

A congressional study said honeybees add about $15 billion a year in value to our food supply.

Of the 17,000 species of bees that scientists know about, "honeybees are, for many reasons, the pollinator of choice for most North American crops," a National Academy of Sciences study said last year. They pollinate many types of plants, repeatedly visit the same plant, and recruit other honeybees to visit, too.

Pulitzer Prize-winning insect biologist E.O. Wilson of Harvard said the honeybee is nature's "workhorse — and we took it for granted."

"We've hung our own future on a thread," Wilson, author of the book "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth," told The Associated Press on Monday.

Beginning this past fall, beekeepers would open up their hives and find no workers, just newborn bees and the queen. Unlike past bee die-offs, where dead bees would be found near the hive, this time they just disappeared. The die-off takes just one to three weeks.

USDA's top bee scientist, Jeff Pettis, who is coordinating the detective work on this die-off, has more suspected causes than time, people and money to look into them.

The top suspects are a parasite, an unknown virus, some kind of bacteria, pesticides, or a one-two combination of the top four, with one weakening the honeybee and the second killing it.

A quick experiment with some of the devastated hives makes pesticides seem less likely. In the recent experiment, Pettis and colleagues irradiated some hard-hit hives and reintroduced new bee colonies. More bees thrived in the irradiated hives than in the non-irradiated ones, pointing toward some kind of disease or parasite that was killed by radiation.

The parasite hypothesis has history and some new findings to give it a boost: A mite practically wiped out the wild honeybee in the U.S. in the 1990s. And another new one-celled parasitic fungus was found last week in a tiny sample of dead bees by University of California San Francisco molecular biologist Joe DeRisi, who isolated the human SARS virus.

However, Pettis and others said while the parasite nosema ceranae may be a factor, it cannot be the sole cause. The fungus has been seen before, sometimes in colonies that were healthy.

Recently, scientists have begun to wonder if mankind is too dependent on honeybees. The scientific warning signs came in two reports last October.

First, the National Academy of Sciences said pollinators, especially America's honeybee, were under threat of collapse because of a variety of factors. Captive colonies in the United States shrank from 5.9 million in 1947 to 2.4 million in 2005.

Then, scientists finished mapping the honeybee genome and found that the insect did not have the normal complement of genes that take poisons out of their systems or many immune-disease-fighting genes. A fruitfly or a mosquito has twice the number of genes to fight toxins, University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum.

What the genome mapping revealed was "that honeybees may be peculiarly vulnerable to disease and toxins," Berenbaum said.

University of Montana bee expert Jerry Bromenshenk has surveyed more than 500 beekeepers and found that 38 percent of them had losses of 75 percent or more. A few weeks back, Bromenshenk was visiting California beekeepers and saw a hive that was thriving. Two days later, it had completely collapsed.

Yet Bromenshenk said, "I'm not ready to panic yet." He said he doesn't think a food crisis is looming.

Even though experts this year gave what's happening a new name and think this is a new type of die-off, it may have happened before.

Bromenshenk said cited die-offs in the 1960s and 1970s that sound somewhat the same. There were reports of something like this in the United States in spots in 2004, Pettis said. And Germany had something similar in 2004, said Peter Neumann, co-chairman of a 17-country European research group studying the problem.

"The problem is that everyone wants a simple answer," Pettis said. "And it may not be a simple answer."
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Disappearing bees

Postby yathrib » Thu May 03, 2007 11:15 am

Nature always bats last. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to find out what (if any) vegetables and fruits don't depend on pollination. Also a good time to get back into sprouting. A temporary solution to be sure, as it depends on the availability of seeds that may soon be extinct. I used to do a lot of that, but quit because my family was getting irate about all those upturned mason jars everywhere. But if it's the only source of fresh produce-like stuff...
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Postby theeKultleeder » Thu May 03, 2007 11:52 pm

I actually found a dying bee last night at a gas station. It was perched on a short concrete pillar and was twitchy and tired, like a poisoned insect.

The gas station is right next to a small citrus packing store.
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Postby chiggerbit » Mon May 07, 2007 10:35 am

Bee die-off has seemed to happen so fast--between late summer last year and this spring-- that I'm inclined to believe that it might be something new introduced into bees' enviroments or food in the last year. Did a google on it, came up with this article that raises some questions for me, not only about the bee die-off, but also the petfood toxins. Is it possible that the Chinese toxins aren't the only toxins to blame?

Even though the scientists may find evidence of fungal or parasital infections in the die-off, that could be just a symptom of a larger problem.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international ... udy_MON863

13 March 2007 Laboratory rats, fed with a genetically engineered (GE) maize produced by Monsanto, have shown signs of toxicity in kidney and liver, according to a new study.(1) This is the first time that a GE product which has been cleared for use as food for humans and animals has shown signs of toxic effects on internal organs.

The study, published today in the journal “Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology”, analysed results of safety tests submitted by Monsanto to the European Commission when the company was seeking authorisation to market its GE Maize variety MON863 in the EU. (2)

The data shows that MON863 has significant health risks associated with it; nonetheless, the European Commission granted licences to market the maize for consumption by both humans and animals. (3)

The incriminating evidence was obtained by Greenpeace following a court case (4), and passed on for evaluation by a team of experts headed by Professor Gilles Eric Séralini, a governmental expert in genetic engineering technology from the University of Caen. (5)

In a joint press conference with Greenpeace at Berlin, Professor Séralini said, “Monsanto’s analyses do not stand up to rigorous scrutiny – to begin with, their statistical protocols are highly questionable. Worse, the company failed to run a sufficient analysis of the differences in animal weight. Crucial data from urine tests were concealed in the company’s own publications.”

Greenpeace is demanding the complete and immediate withdrawal of Monsanto’s MON 863 maize from the global market and is calling upon governments to undertake an urgent reassessment of all other authorised GE products and a strict review of current testing methods.

“This is the final nail in the coffin for the credibility of the current authorisation system for GE products. Once it’s known that a system designed to protect human and animal health has approved a high-risk product despite clear evidence of its dangers, we need to start ‘strip-searching’ all GE products on the market, and immediately abort this flawed approval procedure,” said Christophe Then, Genetic Engineer campaigner, Greenpeace International.

The data in question has been the subject of fierce debate since 2003, when significant changes were identified in the blood of tested animals fed on MON863. MON863 was approved by the European Commission, in spite of opposition by a majority of EU member states, who raised concerns over the safety of the maize. Professor Séralini’s analysis now scientifically confirms these concerns. As the study states, “with the present data, it cannot be concluded that GM corn MON863 is a safe product.” And yet, MON863 has been authorised for markets in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, the Phillipines, and USA, besides the EU.

“This is an international emergency alert, requiring a global response,” concluded Then, “Only a complete withdrawal from all markets will curtail the possible damage.”
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Postby chiggerbit » Mon May 07, 2007 10:45 am

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Postby chiggerbit » Mon May 07, 2007 10:55 am

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Postby chiggerbit » Mon May 07, 2007 10:58 am

http://www.broad.mit.edu/annotation/gen ... /News.html
clip

January 2, 2003 Public release of Monsanto's whole genome sequence of Aspergillus nidulans


As part of the Fungal Genome Initiative, we are pleased to announce a collaboration between Monsanto and Center for Genome Research. The goal of this collaboration is to release a 10X genome sequence for Aspergillus nidulans, strain FGSC-4A. As part of this collaboration, Monsanto is contributing their assembly, which represents ~3X genomic coverage, to the public. These data consist of 16,144 contigs that cover 29,123,109 bp.
In the coming months, the Broad Institute will produce additional whole genome shotgun sequence from plasmids, Fosmids and BACs and reassemble these data with those of Monsanto to generate a 10X genome assembly. After automated annotation, this assembly will be made public, scheduled for spring 2003.

Blast databases are available now for searching Monsanto's genomic sequence data.




From Wiki:

Aspergillus nidulans (also called Emericella nidulans) is one of many species of filamentous fungi in the phylum Ascomycota. It has been an important research organism for studying eukaryotic cell biology[1] as well as Aspergillus metabolism[2] for over 50 years[3]
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Postby chiggerbit » Mon May 07, 2007 11:07 am

Sorry for getting off-topic, but this all shows how our government works harder to protect the corporations than it does the people, with the possibility of enormous and irreversible consequences.

http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2006/j ... 3a_06.html

snip

A dozen state Attorneys General today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw proposed regulations that would sharply reduce the amount of information available to the public about toxic chemicals released by industry in communities across the nation. ....
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Postby chiggerbit » Mon May 07, 2007 11:20 am

http://news.thomasnet.com/companystory/474066

Release date: January 18, 2006

Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto Reach Global Agreement, Creating New Choices for Farmers

INDIANAPOLIS and ST. LOUIS, Jan. 18 - Dow AgroSciences LLC, a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW), and Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) announced today a global business agreement that establishes cooperative arrangements that will give farmers new technology options and more choice in the products to meet their needs.

"At Dow AgroSciences, we're focused on bringing new solutions like Herculex(TM) and WideStrike(TM) insect resistant traits to our customers, and this agreement is another step in expediting innovation," said Jerome Peribere, president and chief executive officer, Dow AgroSciences. "We're pleased to have reached a settlement that will bring new product options to the market and have a long-lasting impact for our customers."

Hugh Grant, Monsanto's president and chief executive officer, added, "The key to this agreement was that our companies were able to focus on our farmer customers and deliver an outcome that will offer them tremendous benefits and choice in the seasons ahead. This agreement will provide farmers with greater access to new technology offerings and trait combinations with the industry's leading weed control system in Roundup Ready. This agreement is expected to be another important contributor to the growth of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Corn 2 technology in the coming seasons."

The companies reached an agreement that creates new and growing business opportunities for both companies. Under this agreement:

o Dow and Monsanto cross licensed intellectual property and product licenses in corn and soybeans on a non-exclusive basis. Dow received a commercial license to certain Monsanto seed stock and biotechnology traits for both corn and soybeans. In addition, Dow receives royalty-bearing rights to create and license finished hybrids, which combine Monsanto's Roundup Ready Corn 2 technology with Dow's Herculex I and Herculex XTRA technologies, to licensees of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Corn 2. o Dow and Monsanto also established cross licenses of cotton technologies on a non-exclusive basis. Dow's license includes Monsanto's patent estate for cotton transformation. Monsanto's license includes the patent estate for glyphosate tolerant cotton of Mycogen Plant Sciences, Inc., an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences. Dow receives the intellectual property licenses for the commercialization of its WideStrike insect protection technology. Monsanto receives the intellectual property licenses related to its Bollgard, Bollgard II, Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready Flex technologies. Monsanto also receives a commercial license for WideStrike technology in South America and Mexico. o Dow and Monsanto also established non-exclusive cross licenses of certain enabling technologies. Dow's license includes Monsanto's patent estate for synthetic Bt technology. Monsanto's license includes the patent estate for Bt in plants owned by Mycogen. o The companies agreed to settle outstanding legal disputes. Mycogen has agreed to withdraw its appeal related to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's determination that Monsanto scientists were the first to invent synthetic Bt genes. Monsanto agreed to withdraw its appeal that Mycogen scientists were first to invent the Cry1F gene.

PowerPoint slides related to today's announcement may be accessed by visiting Monsanto Company's Web site at http://www.monsanto.com/ and clicking on "Investor Information," or Dow AgroSciences' Web site at http://www.dowagro.com/ . Additional specific details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Dow AgroSciences LLC, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, is a global leader in providing pest management and biotechnology products that improve the quality and quantity of the earth's food supply and contribute to the health and quality of life of the world's growing population. Dow AgroSciences has approximately 5,500 people in more than 50 countries dedicated to its business, and has worldwide sales of US $3.4 billion. Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. For more information about Dow AgroSciences, visit http://www.dowagro.com/ .

Monsanto Company is a leading provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. For more information on Monsanto, see http://www.monsanto.com/ .

Forward-Looking Statements: This release contains "forward-looking statements" which reflect the companies' current expectations about future performance. These forward-looking statements rely on a number of assumptions and estimates which could be inaccurate and which are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could vary materially from those anticipated or expressed in any forward-looking statement made by the companies due to a number of factors, including without limitation technological uncertainties facing the companies continued competition in the companies' businesses; the companies' exposure to various contingencies, including those related to intellectual property protection, regulatory compliance and the speed with which approvals are received, and public acceptance of biotechnology products; the success of the companies' research and development activities; compliance with regulations affecting manufacturing; and the effect of weather conditions, natural disasters and accidents on the agriculture business or facilities. Additional risks factors related to Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto are detailed in The Dow Chemical Company's and Monsanto's respective periodic filings with the SEC. Undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements, which are current only as of the date of this release. The companies disclaim any obligation or intent to update the forward-looking statements in order to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this release, except as otherwise may be required by securities and other applicable laws.
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Postby chiggerbit » Mon May 07, 2007 12:03 pm

Trying to remember all the posts in this thread, found this from Thomas that fits with a theory mentioned in an earlier reply:

Baton Rouge, LA--Russian Honey Bees Save U.S. Beekeeping Industry

Parasitic mites, particularly the ectoparasitic Varroa mite, are the most important factor limiting beekeeping in the United States. The exotic Varroa and tracheal mites have combined to virtually eliminate the presence of wild honey bees in the U.S., yet pollination by honey bees and other insects is valued at $6 billion per year. ARS scientists at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, identified and imported honey bees from northeast Russia that have proven to be strongly resistant to the Varroa mite, as well as the tracheal mite. Through cooperation with a commercial honey bee breeder and the American Honey Producers Association, the mite-resistant honey bee is being distributed to beekeepers throughout the U.S. Losses of honey bees to winter kill in 2000-2001 were 50-70% in some areas, but survival of the ARS-imported Russian honey bee in the same areas was over 99%. Consequently, demand for Russian honey bee queens is greater than supply.
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