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Flying honey bees adsorb airborne viruses

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Flying honey bees adsorb airborne viruses

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Abstract

Tethered honey bees (Apidea Apis melifera) coaxed to fly in a miniature wind tunnel for a specific time interval, adsorb a virus (i.e., bacteriophage MS2) aerosol at a linear rate of 1% of the aerosol concentration for every 6.73 pC of electrostatic charge on the bee.

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... Furthermore, in the case of pathogenic microorganisms, electrostatic charge may facilitate transfer and adhesion to charged surfaces and hosts. Indeed, experiments in wind tunnels revealed that the quantity of bacteria and viruses deposited on flying honeybees correlated with the electrostatic charge on the individual bee (Lighthart et al., 2000;Prier, Lighthart & Bromenshenk, 2001;Lighthart, Prier & Bromenshenk, 2005). As well as this, it has been demonstrated that bacterial pathogens adhere in greater numbers to surfaces such as personal protective equipment (PPE), when these surfaces are electrostatically charged (Cozanitis, Ojajärvi & Mäkelä, 1988;Becker, Kristjanson & Waller, 1996;Allen et al., 2003;Allen, Close & Henshaw, 2006), as occurs tribolectrically through normal usage (Allen et al., 2003(Allen et al., , 2006. ...
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... From 1973 through the early 1990s [36,37,48,49,[75][76][77][78][79][80][81][82], we capitalized on bees sampling surrounding environments, trapping at the hive, and analyzing samples of pollen, nectar and honey, wax, and even the bees themselves. We later found that bees' electrostatic charge improves their effectiveness as samplers and modeled particle size attraction as a function of charge for both chemical and biological (microbes/viruses) agents [83,84]. ...
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... As such, honey bees may be seen as a large-scale sampling tool. This trait of honey bees has already been explored for monitoring industrial pollution, airborne bacteria and viruses, and even explosives ( Bromenshenk et al., 1985 ;Lighthart et al., 2000Lighthart et al., , 2005. Furthermore, given a reliable, high-throughput metabarcoding approach to melissopalynology, honey bees could be employed to sample a regional fl ora rapidly, inexpensively, and with an intensity unapproachable by human investigators. ...
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