Can bees be trained to prevent plant disease?

Dr. Andrew Sutherland, a researcher with the UC Davis Plant Pathology Department is training honey bees to detect plant disease in agricultural crops. Bees have excellent chemosensors on their antennae, so they're able to detect organic molecules. Using Ivan Pavlov's method of 'classical conditioning', Sutherland is teaching bees to associate infected plants with a sugar reward. After they are conditioned, the bees are placed inside a box and taken to the field, where if they encounter the same smell, the information is relayed back as a warning sign. Other collaborators on the project include: Dr. Robert M. Wingo; Los Alamos National Laboratory Chemistry Division, Dr. W. Douglas Gubler; UC Davis Plant Pathology and Dr. Kirsten J. McCabe; Los Alamos National Laboratory Bioscience Division.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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