[Histonet] Science fair student help

Douglas Gregg classicdoc at gmail.com
Tue Feb 23 21:59:59 CST 2016

I have not been on this forum for some time, but still follow it. I am a
retired veterinary pathologist. Last year I posted an idea for a freshman
in high school who wants to do a serious science fair project. He is
already beyond high school science level. His father found me because I
have been a science fair judge for many years at a nearby school district.
At first, I declined, citing that I was retired and did not have a good
project for him. Later I thought about a recent study I read about honey
bees being infected with an Iridovirus. That caught my attention because I
did my dissertation and worked for about 10 years on African swine fever
(ASF) caused by an Iridovirus (now renamed but only moved to a branch
classification by itself). It is the only mammalian Iridovirus disease.
Through mass spectrograph studies, and subtraction analysis of normal bee
data from collapsed colony bees, the US Army found the fingerprint of a
likely Iridovirus infection in colony collapse syndrome. No one has yet
confirmed this by other methods that are more conventional and it has not
been fully accepted due to the new technology used to find it.

So I suggested to Joe, that he could attempt to identify the virus in bee
larva tissues using histology to find inclusions and immunostaining using
Vector staining system. I used immunostaining through most of my career and
was one of the first to identify a virus infection (ASF) with Vector
staining systems back in the early 80s.

I have a microtome and a few paraffin mold trays and a few plastic paraffin
tissue holders left over from a consulting project 6 years ago. What he
will need is some paraplast, more plastic molds, a few metal trays, Harris
hematoxylin, eosin, slides, coverslips, permount and later PBS, Tris and  a
Vector ABC AP kit which I am very hopeful can be donated by Vector when we
get that far. I know histo labs often have lots of old unused supplies
around that don't necessarily fit into current routines or machines. If any
of you have such supplies that could be used for very manual processing of
tissues, they would be greatly appreciated. A warm water bath is needed too
but we can improvise, if necessary.

Having reviewed the literature on honeybee colony collapse syndrome and
comparing the pathogenesis with African swine fever, an Iridovirus
infection of bees is a very good fit. I think there is a very high
likelihood that this could be a big breakthrough in the honey bee collapse
problem that thus far has not been answered with the many hypotheses
suggested. This is a worldwide problem that threatens the world food supply
and must be understood and controlled soon. As a onetime bee keeper, it is
close to my heart.  I hope some of you can help Joe get into histology.  He
is very eager and this could possibly lead to a scholarship or at least a
workstudy position during college in a histolab someday. Due to the
recession, his family can't support this project. He has gotten some small
monetary support from a local bee keeper as well as help acquiring bee
larva from colonies.  I am giving him space to set up a lab in my basement
and the necessary solvents, etc and lots of training. This is a very
ambitious project but I think it can be accomplished. He has 2 or 3 years
to get it finished, and hopefully published. Any help would be appreciated.

Any ideas for crowdsource funding would also be appreciated.

Douglas Gregg DVM, PhD
Retired - Plum Island Animal Disease Center
Southold, NY 11971
classicdoc at gmail.com

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