This is great news.

UCSF scientists have identified two likely suspects in the massive die-off of half a million bee colonies in the US. Joe DeRisi, PhD, and Don Ganem, MD, both Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators at UCSF, have used a powerful combination of a “virus chip” — a microarray with DNA samples of most known viruses and fungi — and “shotgun” sequencing, which identifies telltale DNA from random samples of the biological sample.

The parasite is called Nosema ceranae, a so-called microsporidian fungus — a small, single-celled parasite that mainly has been associated with affecting Asian bees, and is thought to have jumped to the Western honeybee in the last few years. The shotgun approach succeeded in this search, as the microarry does not include this species’ DNA.

The lab’s search for culprits using the microarray, however, also netted a second potential killer, a virus from the genus Iflavirus, which has been implicated in a number of problems in the bee industry.

Colony Collapse Disorder has been not only a big mystery but a big threat to our entire food supply, and finding a likely culprit is a very important step to removing that threat. Great work, guys!