PhD Student (Tony Ryan Research Scholarship)

Keith BrownThe mite Varroa destructor is largely responsible for the catastrophic reduction in viable colonies of the Dark Northern European honeybee Apis mellifera mellifera. Furthermore, hybridisation with imported sub-species is thought to have altered the genetic integrity of this bee to the point where it is now considered extinct across most of Europe but Ireland remains a stronghold for pure forms of this subspecies.  This subspecies, also known as the Dark Northern honeybee, is adapted to colder, wetter weather and a shorter foraging season compared to the southern sub-species. These adaptations allow the production of honey in northern Europe and efficient pollination of crops and wild flora.   My PhD research focuses on the adaptive evolution of this honeybee including how some bees display resistance/tolerance to parasitism by Varroa. Observed colony traits and local environmental conditions, combined with genomics, genotyping and morphometric analysis of the bees will be used to determine those strains & traits offering greatest tolerance to Varroa whilst retaining local adaptations.  This information will be employed to guide a breeding programme for Varroa resistant native Irish honeybees.

Contact Details

 Zoology, Ryan Institute & School of Natural Sciences
Phone: 353 (0)91 493195
Fax: 353 (0)91 525005