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BeeVAX
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Winners of the Inclusivity Award!

Why are bees so important?

About 90% of wild flowering plants rely on pollinators, with bees being the primary contributors.

Pollination is vital for 35% of global food production, it is responsible for most crop species.

The estimated annual value of global pollination ranges from $250 billion to $650 billion.

The Problem

About 25% of the honey bee colonies in central europe have vanished within 20 years after the Varroa mite reached central europe in the 80s.

The Approach

Entomopathogenic fungi causing over 90% mortality in Varroa mites.

Unfortunately, they also result in a ~25% mortality rate for bees.

The Solution

Bees can immunize their offspring against pathogens through transgenerational immune priming, allowing queens to protect their colony.

How do we want to solve the problem?

The egg yolk protein Vitellogenin has immunopriming activity in bees.
Our project centers on the PAMP-binding sites of the protein.

Pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) can come from bacteria and fungi, and Vitellogenin binds bacterial PAMPs better than fungal ones.

Our goal was to efficiently engineer Vitellogenin
for optimized binding to fungal PAMPs, so we can use the entomopathogenic fungi as a treatment against the Varroa mite without harming the bees.

Random mutagenesis was employed for directed evolution of Vitellogenin.

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Rational design complemented the random mutagenesis approach by modeling protein binding sites.

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The combination of wet lab and dry lab lead to an optimized Vitellogenin to protect the honey bees.