BDI and Somerset BKA are jointly funding PhD student Hollie Pufal at Newcastle University over the next four years. She will investigate this local EFB cluster using modern molecular methods in an attempt to improve the understanding of disease transmission and discover why this disease cluster is so persistent in the area.
A few years ago BDI asked Fera to undertake further research into EFB and funded Dr Ed Haynes to develop a bioinformatics pipeline to sequence genomes of the causal agent, Melissococcus plutonius, which revealed that there were different strains of EFB.
Hollie will refine this protocol and use it to assess transmission events using Somerset as the case study. She will be working with beekeepers across the county as well as with NBU Bee Inspectors to improve local disease control measures.
EFB is the most prevalent bacterial brood disease in England and Wales with up to 350 cases each year and, in some years, Somerset had the dubious distinction of having the highest number of cases.
Hollie said: “Having worked with plants for the last few years I am new to the bee world, but I am looking forward to learning more about their fascinating behaviours and to a new challenge.”
Hollie is supervised by Professor Giles Budge, co-supervised by Professor Steve Rushton both from Newcastle University, Dr Ed Haynes from Fera Science Ltd as well as BDI.
For more about Hollie and the project, click here.