Mobile-phone microscope detects the 'silent killer' of honey bees

Currently, the only approach to diagnose the disease in bees caused by parasites is accurately is through the detection of parasite spores using a light microscope. However, this traditional testing is performed in laboratory settings and requires expert operation. Therefore, a beekeeper must send local samples to a remote laboratory for accurate diagnosis, which is time-consuming and expensive. Researchers at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, USA, in collaboration with the Department of Biology at Barnard College USA, have developed a mobile-phone microscope that enables rapid and automated detection of Nosema spores in honey bees in field settings. This mobile and cost-effective platform, weighing only 0.8 pounds, is composed of a smartphone based fluorescence microscope, a custom-developed smartphone application and an easy to perform sample preparation protocol that enables fluorescence tagging of bee parasite spores even in the field.

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