HONEY bees could be immunised against the deadly viruses threatening to wipe out the vital insect thanks to the work of a North East Victorian scientist.
Wangaratta-born Emily Remnant’s research last night scored her the top gong in the Federal Government’s Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
She received Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s special minister’s award, plus $22,000 towards her work.
Ms Remnant — now based in Sydney — said a symbiotic bacteria, Wolbachia pipientis, had immunised flies and stopped mosquitoes transmitting dengue fever, but was yet to be tested on honey bees.
“I’ll test the bacteria in bees and see if it helps them survive damaging viruses,” she said. “It is innovative because it’s using a natural chemical to prevent the viruses themselves.”
Assistant Agriculture Minister Anne Ruston, in presenting the award, said the research was vital for horticulture relying on bees for pollination, worth up to $6 billion to fruit and veg production. “As colony collapses are devastating honey bee populations in other parts of the world, Emily’s research couldn’t come at a more important time to protect populations here in Australia,” Ms Ruston said.
Ms Remnant was one of 11 scientists to share in $230,000 of research grants.