Modifying to innovate
Our questionning through the Integrated Human practice and the sections, made our project evolved from what it was originally from. we try to resume here all the modification we brought to our project after each critical encounter we made
The story of the "Bee subtilis project"
Originally our project was about to create a system able to detect pesticides in the guts of Apis mellifera, and protect them from any harms, in E. coli. However after our first encounter with Mr. Philippe Lecompte, president of the bees biodiversity network, we decided to oriented our project to the detection of pathogens. We decided to focus on one of the worst pathogens currently in action in the US, P. larvae. Our idea was to detect the siderophore (little molecule that bounds strongly Fe2+ in the media. As bacteria aren't able to produce their own iron, they have to get it from their surrounding environnement) of the bacteria with a modified B. subtilis.
We choose B. subtilis as it is a Gramm + bacteria very similar to P. larvae. The idea was to insert the receptors specific to the siderophore of P. larvae into our B. subtilis (after deleting its own siderophore receptors). Inside of the bees guts, our "Bee subtilis" would be able to grow only in the presence of P. larvae (as the bees' guts are poor in free Fe2+ iron,"Bee subtilis" needs the siderophore of P. larvae to grow). In the presence of iron, the repressor FUR bonds to two iron molecules and is activated, repriming the expression of target genes. We use this system at our advantage. We put the target sequence of FUR next to a LacI sequence that we introduced into our "Bee subtilis", the lacI would inhibate the expression of a pigment, which mean that in the presence of P. larvae, "Bee subtilis" is going to produce a pigment, easily observable by beekeepers, that would color bees.
At this point, everything was pretty set. But everything changed once again after we met Dr. Darcher, professor at the "Pierre et Marie Curie" University. He explained us, that our project won't ever come close to reality as we planned to made a bees ingest our modified B. subtilis. The introduction of GMO inside a hive would be seen as really problematic by every beekeepers. Futhermore, he explained to us that our system wouldn't give any useful informations as one bee, carying our "Bee subtilis", wouldn't be representative of the entire hive health.
The project evolved into something more beekeepers friendly and closer to reality, as we decided to use our modified bacteria as an external bio sensor. We would only require bee's defecation. Our "Bee subtilis" put in a free iron media, would only be able activate the production of blue pigment when the defecation contains P. larvae.
Finally as we send survey to beekeepers to ask them about our project (here) and after what Mr. Lecompte told us (here). We decided that the best, to help beekeepers have better knowledge of the health statuts of their hives, would be to mesure several factors (as the CCD is multi-factorials).
The factors we choose were : -sugars (Fructose and Sucrose) as the contamination by virus or Nosema ceranae, conduct to sweet defecations by bees. -P. Larvae as one of the main factors of CCD in the US. -Heavy metals as some of the beekeepers were interested by Heavy metal detections, and that some of bees poisoning might be by unknown source or not well studied. This one would also help researchers collecting data.