Gene weapon vs. bee killers

Varroa mites, the BBC reminds us, are one of the worst enemies honeybees face in these difficult days. But now, there’s a genetic front opening in the war to save the hives:

To tackle this particularly nasty pest, bee researchers and parasite specialists came together to harness a method called RNA interference (RNAi).

This involves putting a tiny chunk of genetic code into an organism. This code cancels out a specific gene, essentially switching it off.

The researchers added this piece of genetic material to a solution that they soaked the Varroa mites in.
They described in the journal Parasites and Vectors that, via this soaking, their experimental treatment found its way into the mites and switched off the gene they were targeting.

As far as I can tell, the idea is that if you don’t have the gene, you don’t have to worry about being targeted – so it’s a species-specific weapon.