We are approaching our goal of finding gene and protein markers for economically beneficial characteristics, albeit at a somewhat glacial pace! In the last update, protein extraction was about to begin; now, it has been extracted from well over half the antenna samples, which means there are only several weeks left until we can start the analysis. This will let us finally start finding which proteins (markers) correlate with the suite of different traits that were meticulously recorded for each colony last summer. Some people began the important task of optimizing the protein analysis step (which will currently take about 8 months) to cut the time down to a more reasonable length. This is important because when this analysis is offered as a service to beekeepers – our ultimate end-goal – we want the turn-around time to be as fast as possible. The actual time will depend on a combination of demand, optimization and the requirements of queen breeders, but our target is about 2-3 weeks.
Keep an eye out for a new article authored by the BeeOmics team which describes the economic benefits to beekeepers who adopt the marker-assisted selection model. Conveniently, marker-selected hygienic queens are available for purchase this year from four BC queen breeders. If you missed the advertisement you can still find it here, along with the queen breeders’ contact information.