Somerset BKA and Bee Diseases Insurance Ltd (BDI) are jointly funding PhD student Hollie Pufal at Newcastle University.
Hollie is exploring the virulent ST2 strain of EFB which is uniquely associated with Somerset and north Dorset.
Hollie and her supervisor Prof Giles Budge will be involved in our Lecture Day on 12 February, 2022.
After completing her first year, she has provided a brief report on her work to date:
"Thank you for your generous funding that has allowed me to pursue research in this exciting area. Over the past 6 months I have been establishing methods to develop a molecular workflow that could be used to generate whole genome sequencing data from infected larvae at outbreak sites, I also tested supers from infected apiaries for the presence of EFB.
I tested 4 locations on each frame for the presence of EFB, as well as capped honey and pollen, using DNA extractions and Realtime PCR. The results showed only a small trace of EFB in a couple of samples both from the frame, pollen and honey.
I plan to sequence using handheld sequencing technology, which is a cheaper and more efficient sequencing platform, so has the potential to be used more readily in the future for assessing EFB outbreaks. The issue with sequencing infected larvae material is that most of the sequence generated will be honeybee DNA, so I originally tested various methods that deplete the bee DNA and enrich the bacterial DNA. Initially I used homogenised larvae mixed with M.plutonius culture and then I moved on to infected larvae from the field. I used qPCR assays to detect both EFB and insect DNA to assess the efficiency of the depletion methods, and I now have a selection of promising methods that I will take forward to sequencing and assess the quality."