Verroa Mites on Bee

Scientists “evolve a fungus” claims Science (AAAS) News 4 June 2021, and Scientific Reports 19 May 2021 doi:10.1038/s41598-021-89811-2.

Researchers looking for a method of biological control of the Verroa mite, which has devastated honeybee colonies, have found a fungus that attacks and kills the mites. However, the fungus grows poorly in the warm temperatures of a beehive, which can be up to 35°C. A group of scientists led by Jennifer Han of Washington State University, Pullman, have used “directed evolution” to develop a strain of the fungus that can tolerate the heat and kill the mites.

They subjected cultures of the fungus to stress by starvation and adding hydrogen peroxide to the growing medium to increase the rate of mutations. They then placed them in an incubator and raised the temperature. Some of the fungi survived this heat test, and these were selected out and cultured again. After seven rounds of heat and selection the researchers had a strain that would survive at 35°C.

The researchers then worked on making the fungus more deadly. They placed a culture of the fungus in a beehive and then collected dead mites from the hive. Only 4% of the dead mites had died from the fungus, but the researcher collected the fungus from these, cultured it, and placed it in the beehive. More mites were killed by the fungus, so the scientists grew the fungus again from the dead mites, repeated the process until they had a strain that killed over 60% of the mites.

Link: Science
Editorial Comment: This is a clever piece of manipulation and artificial selection, but nothing has evolved, since the scientists started with a fungus that already existed and already had strains (variations) that could kill mites in various conditions. If any mutations resulted from the stress imposed on the fungus they only resulted in variations of the same fungus. They did not make a new fungus.

After some intelligent purposeful ‘unnatural selection’ the scientists had a strain of the fungus that killed mites at beehive temperatures. The fungus is still the classified as the same fungus since it has no real differences to the original.

We commend these scientists making progress in controlling a serious pest, but we cannot commend their deliberate misuse of the language. The use of the words “evolve” and “evolution” for what they have done is another classic misuse of these words designed to keep Darwin’s evolution in people’s minds whenever they read any scientific study on change.

This is a good reminder that evolution only really occurs in the minds of evolutionists. Out in the real world there are mutations and selection, both natural and artificial, but none of these are evolution. Mutations simply cause variation in what already exists. Selection only works on what already exists. These processes cannot make something that does not already exist, so they cannot make a new living thing, nor change one kind of living thing into another.

Feature image above shows two mites attached to the back of a bee.

Creation Research News 16 June 2021

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