Bee genome information housed at Texas A&M University

COLLEGE STATION -- The cluster of electronics looks mundane enough. Twenty computers hum away, blue lights flashing. But the data these computers are processing, though, may help cure disease and put food on tables throughout the world.

About three years ago, Dr. Christine Elsik an expert in genomics in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University offered to house the data from the honey bee genome sequencing project at Baylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center. Baylor researchers finished sequencing the genome in March, but the work continues.

Elsik's computers house the data from the sequence of the 16 chromosomes and 265 million nucleotides of the honey bee, she said.

Baylor's findings from the honey bee genome sequencing were published today in Nature. Baylor took the lead on the sequencing in 2003, with assistance from Texas A&M, Australian National University, and other universities, agencies and individuals such as Dan Weaver of Navasota.

"I think it is going to dramatically change the way that beekeepers manage their hives and suppress disease and parasitic mites in their colonies," said Weaver, president of Bee Weaver Apiaries. "It will help us have healthier bees that are more productive."

Bee Weaver Apiaries supplies breeding queens to beekeepers, he said.

Weaver helped initiate the honey bee genome sequencing work in 2001.Weaver, Dr. Spencer Johnston, entomologist with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, researchers from University of Illinois, U.S. Department of Agriculture and several other universities and agencies, wrote a "white paper" that explained the need for and potential benefits of sequencing the genome. That paper was submitted to the National Institutes of Health, which provided the funding to Baylor College of Medicine for the research.

With support from the Experiment Station and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at T

Contact: Dr. Spencer Johnston
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications

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