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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Illinois teams with Anheuser-Busch for bee research

There’s plenty of sweet irony in a new partnership between Illinois and St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, LLC, that will raise money for bee research at the university.

Anheuser-Busch has pledged $5,000 to The Healthy Bee Fund at Illinois. In addition, the company will donate $1 to the fund for every case sold of b, a new alcoholic honey beverage scheduled to go on sale in the Northeast U.S. in March.

New laboratory system allows researchers to probe secret lives of queen bees

More than a decade after the identification of colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon marked by widespread loss of honey bee colonies, scientists are still working to untangle the ecologically complex problem of how to mitigate ongoing losses of honey bees and other pollinating species. One much-needed aid in this effort is more efficient ways to track specific impacts on bee health. To address this need, a group of Illinois researchers has established a laboratory-based method for tracking the fertility of honey bee queens.

Global Effort to Sequence All Complex Life on Earth Launches

The Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), a global effort to sequence the genetic code, or genomes, of all 1.5 million known animal, plant, protozoan and fungal species on Earth, officially launches today (1 November) as key scientific partners and funders from around the globe gather in London, UK to discuss progress in organising and funding the project.

IGB Director Gene Robinson elected to National Academy of Medicine

Entomology professor and director of the IGB Gene Robinson, an international leader in honey bee research, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine “for pioneering contributions to understanding the roles of genes in social behavior.”

Election to the NAM “is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service,” the Academy writes. This honor follows Robinson’s receipt of the 2018 Wolf Prize in Agriculture earlier this year.

Earth BioGenome Project aims to sequence genomes of 1.5M species

An international consortium of scientists is proposing a massive project to sequence, catalog and analyze the genomes of all known eukaryotic species on the planet, an undertaking the researchers say will take 10 years, cost $4.7 billion and require more than 200 petabytes of digital storage capacity. Eukaryotes include all organisms except bacteria and archaea. There are an estimated 10-15 million eukaryotic species on Earth. Of those, the team proposes sequencing 1.5 million.

Reach out and feed someone: Automated system finds rapid honey bee networks

“Only connect”—E. M. Forster’s pithy quotation captures an essential feature of any society, human or animal: the patterns of interactions among individuals out of which collective behaviors arise. By developing a system that allows automated, in-depth monitoring of the social interactions of honey bees, researchers have now uncovered an unexpected property of the bee social network that may someday help us design more effective human and machine communication systems.

Reach out and feed someone: Automated system finds rapid honey bee networks

“Only connect”—E. M. Forster’s pithy quotation captures an essential feature of any society, human or animal: the patterns of interactions among individuals out of which collective behaviors arise. By developing a system that allows automated, in-depth monitoring of the social interactions of honey bees, researchers have now uncovered an unexpected property of the bee social network that may someday help us design more effective human and machine communication systems.

Genomic study explores evolution of gentle 'killer bees' in Puerto Rico

A genomic study of Puerto Rico's Africanized honey bees - which are more docile than other so-called "killer bees" - reveals that they retain most of the genetic traits of their African honey bee ancestors, but that a few regions of their DNA have become more like those of European honey bees. According to the researchers, these changes likely contributed to the bees' rapid evolution toward gentleness in Puerto Rico, a change that occurred within 30 years.

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