Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Honey-Bee Agression Study Suggests Nurture Alters Nature

18.08.2009
A new study reveals that changes in gene expression in the brain of the honey bee in response to an immediate threat have much in common with more long-term and even evolutionary differences in honey-bee aggression. The findings lend support to the idea that nurture (an organism’s environment) may ultimately influence nature (its genetic inheritance).

The study, appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used microarray analysis to measure changes in gene expression in the brains of European honey bees and much more aggressive Africanized honey bees.

Microarrays offer a snapshot of the thousands of genes that are activated at a given point in time. By comparing microarrays of bees in different environmental and social conditions, the researchers were able to look for patterns of gene expression that coincided with aggression.

Honey bees respond aggressively only if their hive is disturbed. But when disturbed they mount a vigorous defense – the all too familiar bee sting. The researchers observed that changes that occur in the brain of a European honey bee after it is exposed to alarm pheromone (a chemical signal that the hive is in danger) look a lot like the more gradual changes that occur over the bee’s lifetime. (Old bees are more aggressive than young bees.)

Even more striking was the finding of a very similar pattern of brain gene expression in Africanized honey bees. In terms of brain gene expression, Africanized bees “look” like they were just exposed to a whiff of alarm pheromone, even though they weren’t.

“Microarray analysis is revealing large-scale gene expression patterns that are giving us new insights into the relationships between genes and social behavior,” said Gene Robinson, a professor of neuroscience and of entomology at the University of Illinois, who led the study. “Some of the same genes associated with aggression that vary due to heredity also vary due to environment. This shows how nature and nurture both act on the genome, which provides an alternative to the old ‘nature versus nurture’ dichotomy.”

The new findings may begin to explain how the evolutionary diversity of behavioral traits is achieved, he said.

“We suggest that the molecular processes underlying environmental effects on aggression – that is, responsiveness to alarm pheromone – could have evolved into molecular processes underlying inherited differences in aggression exhibited by Africanized honey bees and European honey bees – nurture begets nature,” the authors wrote.

The study was made possible by a National Science Foundation Frontiers in Biological Research grant, led by University of Illinois medical information science professor and department head Bruce Schatz, who is also an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology.

“The study is one of the most exciting to emerge yet from ‘BeeSpace,’ an NSF-sponsored project which is the first of its kind to use genomics and new bioinformatics on a massive scale to understand how nature and nurture influence behavior,” Schatz said.

Additional funding was provided by the Fyssen Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Illinois Sociogenomics Initiative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The research team also included scientists from Purdue University; the University of Guelph; CENIDFA-INIFAP, in Ajuchitlán, Mexico; the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center of the USDA Agriculture Research Service; and the University of Illinois departments of animal sciences, cell and developmental biology, chemistry, and computer science.

Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>