An unidentified viral infection may be the cause of aggression in worker honeybees, say researchers from Japan. Their findings appear in the February 2004 issue of the Journal of Virology.
While initially trying to pinpoint genes responsible for aggressive behavior in worker honeybees, the researchers stumbled upon a novel RNA sequence, which they named Kakugo, that could only be found in the brains of honeybees that displayed aggressive behavior toward a hornet decoy. They believe that the RNA is an indicator of a viral infection.
"These results demonstrate that Kakugo RNA is a plus-strand RNA of a novel picorna-like virus and that the brains of aggressive workers are infected by this novel virus," say the researchers. "In aggressive workers, Kakugo RNA was detected in the brain but not in the thorax or abdomen, indicating a close relation between viral infection in the brain and aggressive worker behaviors."
(T. Fujiyuki, H. Takeuchi, M. Ono, S. Ohka, T. Sasaki, A. Nomoto, T. Kubo. 2003. Novel insect picorna-like virus identified in the brains of aggressive worker honeybees. Journal of Virology, 78. 3: 1093-1100.)
NEW SOLAR UNIT SUCCESSFUL AT DISINFECTING WATER
Researchers from Easton, Pennsylvania and Lima, Peru have developed a simple and cost-efficient system to decontaminate polluted water using nothing more than sunlight. Their findings appear in the February 2004 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Contaminated water is responsible for billions of cases of gastrointestinal illnesses every year. Developing nations lacking proper sanitation methods often report the highest number of cases. Technologies such as ozonation, chlorination, and artificial UV radiation, while useful, are high in cost and demand complex equipment and skilled operators.