Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Insulin signaling key to caste development in bees

15.07.2010
What makes a bee grow up to be a queen? Scientists have long pondered this mystery.

Now, researchers in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University have fit a new piece into the puzzle of bee development. Their work not only adds to understanding about bees, but also adds insights into our own development and aging.

The study, which appeared in the June 30 online edition of Biology Letters, shows that a key protein in the insulin signaling pathway plays a strong role in caste development among bees.

A female bee can become either a worker or a queen. Queen bees are larger and live longer than workers. Queen bees are also fertile while workers are essentially sterile. A queen has only one role—to lay eggs—while workers tend the hive, care for the queen and larvae, and forage for food.

"The incredible thing is that both of these types of female honeybees emerge from the same genome," says Florian Wolschin, an assistant research professor in the School of Life Sciences in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the lead author of the study. "So how does that happen?"

Workers determine the fate of the larvae by what they feed them. The amount and composition of food that the larvae receive determine whether they become workers or queens. People have known this for many years, but exactly what happens inside the cells to create this split isn't completely clear.

Wolschin, Gro Amdam, an associate professor, and Navdeep S. Mutti, a postdoctoral research associate, found that the insulin signaling pathway plays a role in caste development. Insulin is a hormone found in humans and many other animals, and insulin-like peptides have been discovered in bees. Insulin moves glucose—sugar—from the bloodstream into the body's cells where it can be used.

The researchers suppressed one of the key proteins in this pathway in honeybee larvae. The protein, called the insulin receptor substrate (IRS), has been linked to growth, development and reproduction in mice. The researchers fed the altered larvae a queen's diet, but they developed into workers, not queens.

IRS is only one component of the process that decides a bee's ultimate fate. Wolschin says several other molecules are known to play a role, including DNA methyltransferase, juvenile hormone and a protein called TOR.

"Those are all very important and fundamental mechanisms," says Wolschin. "One single part cannot alone be responsible. It has to be the interplay between different mechanisms that finally results in the divergence of queens and workers."

The researchers are now looking at the interconnections between several of these factors. "We want to see if maybe there's a hierarchy involved. Several of the components are probably 'upstream' of other processes. So they serve as mass regulators and switches," says Wolschin.

Honeybees are vitally important to our economy through pollination of crops as well as production of honey, wax and royal jelly. Understanding bee biology is crucial to maintaining this industry in the face of problems like colony collapse disorder.

Wolschin adds that bees also provide an important model system that can help us understand our own biology. For example, scientists have successfully reversed many signs of aging in worker bees.

"That is pretty unique," says Wolschin. "You don't have other model organisms in aging research that can do that."

Read the full study at: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2010/06/28/rsbl.2010.0463.full?sid=7539bb48-6a05-4618-b38c-eecaead0135a

Margaret Coulombe | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.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: 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...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

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

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>