Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research led by Wayne State discovers single gene in bees separating queens from workers

03.02.2014
Discovery may provide key to increasing agricultural economy in Michigan and beyond

A research team led by Wayne State University, in collaboration with Michigan State University, has identified a single gene in honeybees that separates the queens from the workers.

The scientists unraveled the gene's inner workings and published the results in the current issue of Biology Letters. The gene, which is responsible for leg and wing development, plays a crucial role in the evolution of bees' ability to carry pollen.

"The gene — Ultrabithorax, or Ubx — is responsible for making hind legs different from fore legs so they can carry pollen" said Aleksandar Popadic, associate professor of biological sciences in Wayne State University's College of Liberal Arts and Science and principal investigator of the study. "In some groups, like crickets, Ubx is responsible for creating a 'jumping' hind leg. In others, such as bees, it makes a pollen basket — a 'naked,' bristle-free leg region that creates a space for packing pollen."

"Other studies have shed some light on this gene's role in this realm, but our team examined in great detail how the modifications take place," added Zachary Huang, MSU entomologist.

Ubx represses the development of bristles on bees' hind legs, creating a smooth surface that can be used for packing pollen. This important discovery can be used as a foray into more commercial studies focused on providing means to enhance a bee's pollination ability – the bigger the pollen basket, the more pollen that can be packed in it and transported back to the hive.

While workers have these distinct features, queens do not. The team confirmed this by isolating and silencing Ubx. This made the pollen baskets completely disappear, altered the growth of the pollen comb and reduced the size of the pollen press. Interestingly, Ubx is also expressed in the same region of the hind legs in bumble bees, which are in the same family as honey bees. This finding suggests that the evolution of the pollen-gathering apparatus in all corbiculate bees may have a shared origin and could be traced to the acquisition of novel functions by Ubx.

In another interesting finding, researchers identified that bees living in more complex social structures have an advantage over isolated populations in developing these important functions.

"The pollen baskets are much less elaborate or completely absent in bees that are less socially complex," Huang said. "We conclude that the evolution of pollen baskets is a major innovation among social insects and is tied directly to more complex social behaviors."

The value of agricultural crops dependent on honey bee pollination was estimated to be $14.6 billion per year in the U.S. in 2013.

"In Michigan alone, the fruit and vegetable industries produce over $2 billion per year, and nearly 50 percent of that value is due entirely to honey bee pollination," said Huang. "This shows that bees are contributing significantly to the state and national economy."

This study, along with future research by Popadic and Huang, may provide an option for improving the shrinking population of bees' pollen-collecting capacity, leading to increased pollination and hopeful increases in fruit and vegetable production.

This research was funded to Popadic by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, number GM071927.

Wayne State University is one of the nation's pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world.

Julie O'Connor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.research.wayne.edu
http://www.wayne.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Fluttering Accordion
04.08.2015 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Molecular Spies to Fight Cancer - Procedure for improving tumor diagnosis successfully tested
03.08.2015 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Greenhouse gases' millennia-long ocean legacy

Continuing current carbon dioxide (CO2) emission trends throughout this century and beyond would leave a legacy of heat and acidity in the deep ocean. These...

Im Focus: Glaciers melt faster than ever

Glacier decline in the first decade of the 21st century has reached a historical record, since the onset of direct observations. Glacier melt is a global phenomenon and will continue even without further climate change. This is shown in the latest study by the World Glacier Monitoring Service under the lead of the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service, domiciled at the University of Zurich, has compiled worldwide data on glacier changes for more than 120 years. Together...

Im Focus: Quantum Matter Stuck in Unrest

Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.

What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water—the system has thermalized to a new thermal...

Im Focus: On the crest of the wave: Electronics on a time scale shorter than a cycle of light

Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.

The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...

Im Focus: Superfast fluorescence sets new speed record

Plasmonic device has speed and efficiency to serve optical computers

Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Success 4.0 – Is Your Company Fit for the Future? New Series of Events for Executives

04.08.2015 | Event News

3rd Euro Bio-inspired - International Conference and Exhibition on Bio-inspired Materials

23.07.2015 | Event News

Clash of Realities – International Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games

10.07.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small tilt in magnets makes them viable memory chips

04.08.2015 | Information Technology

New Design Brings World’s First Solar Battery to Performance Milestone

04.08.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Magnetism at Nanoscale

04.08.2015 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>