ASU researchers aid in understanding how bees vaccinate their young

Bee sucking nectar from yellow flowerAfter studying a bee blood protein called vitellogenin, researchers from ASU, University of Helsinki, University of Jyväskylä and Norwegian University of Life Sciences discovered how bees naturally immunize their offspring against diseases in their environments. The discovery is significant to humans as it could play an important role in helping to combat colony collapse disorder - an increasingly common occurrence that threatens global food security. The team, which included researchers from ASU's School of Life Sciences, found that bacteria from the outside environment is incidentally included in a royal jelly made by worker bees for their colony's queen. Pieces of the bacteria are then bound to vitellogenin - a protein - and carried via blood to the developing eggs. Because of this, the immune systems of bee babies are better prepared to fight diseases found in their environment once they are born. Now that the team understands how bees vaccinate their babies, they are pursuing the first edible and natural vaccine for insects.