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 Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia 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: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>