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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We report the first to our knowledge genetically engineered honeybees, which are important pollinators and interesting biological models for the study of social and complex behaviors as well as caste and sexual development. This genetic manipulation tool will enable systematic studies of biological processes in an organism building complex societies. We demonstrate highly efficient integration and expression of piggyBac-derived cassettes in the honeybee that make this system applicable to colony-based screening approaches and useful for an average beekeeping facility. This cassette was stably and efficiently transmitted and expressed in progeny by two different promoters, offering the prospect for activation or inhibition of gene functions under conditions of stage- and tissue-specific promoters.
Schulte, C., Theilenberg, E., Müller-Borg, M., Gempe, T., & Beye, M. (2014). Highly efficient integration and expression of piggyBac-derived cassettes in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201402341.
 

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so...basically.....they figured out how to cram new genetics into bees using...cassettes? What does that even mean though? Could anything helpful actually be inserted?
 

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Gus, a cassette refers to the segments of genes put together by the researcher that integrate together.
dang I was hoping to use all my old Johnny Cash cassette, the outcome would have been wonderful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What does that even mean though? Could anything helpful actually be inserted?
At this point it is just proof of concept, they have perfected the skill necessary to alter the genome of the honeybee. This has been done in other animals for many years. The least common use is to alter plants or animals for food production. It is far more common to delete or disable particular genes to try to understand their function. For example, suppose there is a gene for defensive behavior. It might be possible to alter that behavior by modifying that gene. There are other less permanent ways to do this now, by altering gene expression with RNA, which only temporarily affects that gene pathway.

Obviously, nobody is about to release genetically modified honey bees into the environment. That would be irresponsible, stupid, and illegal. The colonies they use are never allowed to issue live bees into the environment.

These scientists were basically testing their ability to add a fluorescent marker gene to honey bees, which could be detected in the queens they raised from larvae which had the synthetic DNA injected into them. Further, the researchers exposed the queens to small doses of CO2 which caused them to begin to lay unfertilized eggs. These eggs all turned into drones, which also had the fluorescent gene expression, proving that it could be passed on to the offspring.

In terms of practical application, it might be possible to make bees more resistant to viruses, or produce more honey. Nobody really know because at this point for the most part nobody knows what various genes in an organism do. But one way to find out is to turn one or two of them off and see what goes wrong.
 

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One of the grandest catastrophes to befall the beekeeping world was the ordinary importation of bees from Africa to South America. In contrast, experimentation with genetically modified organisms is so highly regulated, almost no one can afford to do it.
I disagree. The grandest catastrophes to befall the beekeeping world was the accidental release of 26 queens of the same imported strain of honeybees into the wild. The researchers that imported their bee stock no doubt certainly offered the same assurances that these research bees would never make it out of the lab.

I have no confidence that these genetic mutations will not become the next "grandest catastrophes to befall the beekeeping world" when a careless or tired or pissed-off lab assistant leaves the cage door open. Please assure me that this could never happen.

Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I disagree. The grandest catastrophes to befall the beekeeping world was the accidental release of 26 queens of the same imported strain of honeybees into the wild. The researchers that imported their bee stock no doubt certainly offered the same assurances that these research bees would never make it out of the lab.
I don't think you know what you are talking about. The cover story was that the bees were accidentally released, whereas there is ample evidence that the bees were widely distributed on purpose.
 

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I don't think you know what you are talking about. The cover story was that the bees were accidentally released, whereas there is ample evidence that the bees were widely distributed on purpose.
Whether you think I know what I'm talking about or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that we need absolute assurances that a release of genetically problematic bees, whether accidental or deliberate, can never happen again.

We're not going to get that assurance, are we?

Wayne
 

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Peter:

We've already had one very recent 'incident' involving biotechnology and Honeybees.

That was the deliberate treatment of thousands of colonies of Honeybees with a virus derived jumping gene.

Of course, I'm referring to the Beeologics test.

I haven't forgotten it, nor have I forgotten that your friend Randy was involved.
 

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why are we screwing with 100 million year old animals!?
Control. Can't you all see where this is going?; and the fluorescent gene expression wrote of in post #6 in this thread is their mark of ownership. It looks like that fluorescent gene expression will be past on to any outside queens those drones mate with (our bees). Go figure. It might not be long before big companies will own the honeybees and it will be illegal for us to have them, unless we are leasing the bees from them or something I'm afraid.
It has already been done with seeds for a few years now.
Big businesses have been buying into the supreme court so we don't have a leg to stand on when they sue us.
 

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VickyLynn that is really precisely what I was referring to, just didn't mention the name is all. There are many others affiliated with them anyway.
 

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I think the concerns of the aforementioned people/companies are genuine...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
It looks like that fluorescent gene expression will be past on to any outside queens those drones mate with (our bees). Go figure. It might not be long before big companies will own the honeybees and it will be illegal for us to have them, unless we are leasing the bees from them or something I'm afraid.
The research was done in Germany so you don't need to worry about the bees mating with "your bees." They took measures to prevent their escape in any case:

We used different containment procedures so that no transformed
bee could escape into nature. This includes a large closed flight cage
in which the nucleus hives with the transformed queens were kept. When the
queens were 8 d old, they were treated with CO2 for 7 min on two successive
days. This treatment induced the laying of unfertilized eggs, which developed
into drones.
The fluorescent marker is a standard method of testing a technique. It has no effect on the animal, other than to make it glow in the dark, like a jellyfish. It couldn't be used for ID purposes, since it is already in widespread use in research.

These scientists are not working on an commercially intended product, nor are they working for any agricultural company. They have no goal other than to learn the function of genes in this important organism.

Without knowing the function of the genes nobody could make any significant changes. It would be like having someone who doesn't know cars work on your car. About the only thing he could do is make it stop working. In other words, if an important gene is altered, the most likely result is that organism will die or not reproduce. It is much more difficult to make changes that have beneficial effects, and like I said, nobody has any target genes identified yet.

The Monsanto project is completely different. They are not doing research that is available to the scientific community, it is all aimed at making a product to sell. Their approach is to use RNA to control viruses or varroa mites. This does not create a genetically modified organism. It creates dead ones. They have been working on it for almost ten years and there is no product available which is a pretty good sign that it either 1) doesn't work or 2) is too expensive.

By the way, I didn't start this thread to get into an argument about genetically engineered bees. Some will be opposed to them because they are opposed to genetic engineering of any animal. Some will be in favor of it, or else they have no objection. There are agricultural questions as well as conservation questions. But those are tangential to the topic, which is how and why genes can be altered by this technique.
 
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