Aug 23, 2011
Effects of Bt maize on ‘stressed’ honeybees
Scientists have not so far been able to find any harmful effects of genetically modified Bt maize on healthy bees. But what happens if the insects have already been weakened by disease? In other words, what if they are exposed to several potential stress factors at the same time? This is a question scientists at the University of Würzburg are researching.
Dr Stephan Härtel from the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology at the University of Würzburg is leading the research on genetically modified Bt maize.
A few years ago in a field experiment conducted by researchers from Jena University, bees fed exclusively on Bt maize pollen were found to be more sensitive to a chance infection by the intestinal parasite Nosema than bees that ate conventional maize pollen. These indications of a potential interaction between Bt protein and the intestinal parasite Nosema have not yet been cleared up. The Würzburg scientists are now investigating the question once again in a feeding experiment and hope to obtain new findings. The results of the experiments will be ready later this year.
In other research into the learning behaviour of bees, scientists are testing whether genetically modified Bt maize can affect the learning ability of bees.
The research work is documented in a report, which includes a video clip.
For each feeding experiment, Theresa Hügel places 56 newly emerged worker bees in small containers.
Katja Rahn is conducting a behavioural experiment with bees.
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