This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Scientists now have a genetic map of the world's most important insect --
important to the food supply. The results showing the order, or sequence, of 98
percent of the honey bee genome created a buzz of excitement. Understanding how
a honey bee is designed should help scientists produce stronger bees.
Honey bees are the world's major source of pollination for food, fiber and oilseed
crops. Bees gather nectar from
flowers; the liquid gives them food and material to make honey. As they land,
their bodies pick up and drop off fine particles of pollen. Most flowering
plants need pollination to reproduce.
But Kevin Hackett, an official at the United States Department of
Agriculture, noted that the world's honey bee population is decreasing. He
called the sequencing of its genome a powerful tool for fighting back against
One cause is the varroa mite which can kill young bees even before they leave
their eggs. Another is the tracheal mite which nests in the breathing tube of
Some people think that insect poisons have also played a part in reducing bee
Experts say honey bees are responsible for as much as 20,000 million dollars
worth of food production in the United States alone. But scientists have
estimated that the bee population in the United States fell by 50 percent
over the past half-century.
The main results of the Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Project Consortium
appeared in the journal Nature. This international team is led by human-genome
researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Related reports
appeared in other publications.
Like humans, bees have genes that give them a sense of day and night.
Scientists believe this helps honey bees gather food.
Bees find flowers by smell. Bees have more genes for a sense of smell than
other insects whose genes have been mapped. But one of the project scientists
noted they have fewer genes for taste. He thinks this might help them avoid
pesticides and plant diseases to find food.
The genetic research suggests that honey bees came from Africa. Their brains
have similar genetic parts as the fruit fly. But fruit flies like to be alone.
Scientists are interested in how, over millions of years, honey bees developed
the complex social order in which they live.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn
Watson. I'm Steve Ember.
pollination : 授粉