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A bee researcher finds that his subjects are protected from viral infections when they dine on fungus.

Shawna Williams
Shawna Williams

Shawna joined The Scientist in 2017 and is now a senior editor and news director. She holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Colorado College and a graduate certificate and science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Researcher Paul Stamets of Washington State University with honeybees

Pathogens such as deformed wing virus and Lake Sinai virus have contributed to worldwide declines in honeybee populations. In a study published last week (October 4) in Scientific Reports, researcher Paul Stamets of Washington State University and colleagues tested whether compounds in fungi might help the pollinators fend off infections. 

They fed bees either a sugar solution or extracts of the fungi Fomes fomentarius and Ganoderma resinaceum, and found that colonies that ate the extracts had far fewer bees infected by deformed wing virus and Lake Sinai virus than did the colonies that got the sugar solution. The authors suggest beekeepers could apply fungi extracts to keep hives healthy.

P.E. Stamets et al., “Extracts of polypore mushroom mycelia reduce viruses in honey bees,” Sci Rep, 8:13936, 2018.

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