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Breakthrough in bid to save British bee

By Adrian Curtis

Breakthrough in battle to save British bees. Photograph: Great British Bee Count and David Podmore
Breakthrough in battle to save British bees. Photograph: Great British Bee Count and David Podmore

To be or not to be - could this be the answer to bee crisis

Scientists are buzzing about a new breakthrough in the battle to save the British bee.

Researchers at a Cambridge pathology group have identified a virus that can change the scent of other plants in order for them to become more attractive to bees.

The authors of a new study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, say that understanding the smells that attract bees, and reproducing them artificially could enable growers to protect or even enhance yields of bee-pollinated crops.

Study principal investigator Dr John Carr, Fellow and Head of Cambridge's Virology and Molecular Plant Pathology group, said:"Bees provide a vital pollination service in the production of three-quarters of the world's food crops.

"With their numbers in rapid decline, scientists have been searching for ways to harness pollinator power to boost agricultural yields.

"Better understanding the natural chemicals that attract bees could provide ways of enhancing pollination, and attracting bees to good sources of pollen and nectar - which they need for survival."

Dr Carr conducted the study with Professor Beverley Glover, Director of Cambridge University Botanic Garden, where many of the experiments took place, and collaborators at Rothamsted Research.


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