Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Latest buzz in research: Intoxicated honey bees may clue scientists into drunken human behavior

25.10.2004


Inebriated bees could give researchers better insight into alcohol’s effects on human behavior, a new study suggests.



"Alcohol affects bees and humans in similar ways – it impairs motor functioning along with learning and memory processing," said Julie Mustard, a study co-author and a postdoctoral researcher in entomology at Ohio State University.

Researchers gave honey bees various levels of ethanol, the intoxicating agent in liquor, and monitored the ensuing behavioral effects of the drink – specifically how much time the bees spent flying, walking, standing still, grooming and flat on their backs, so drunk they couldn’t stand up. The researchers also measured the level of ethanol in the bees’ hemolymph – the circulatory fluid of insects that’s akin to blood.


Not surprisingly, increasing ethanol consumption meant bees spent less time flying, walking and grooming, and more time upside down. The appearance of inebriation occured sooner for bees that were given a larger dose of ethanol. Also, blood ethanol levels increased with time and the amount of ethanol consumed.

This study is preliminary – the researchers simply wanted to see what effects ethanol had on honey bee behavior. In the future, however, they hope to use honey bees as a model for learning more about how chronic alcohol use affects humans, particularly at the molecular level. "The honey bee nervous system is similar to that of vertebrates," said Geraldine Wright, a study co-author and a postdoctoral researcher in entomology at Ohio State.

Mustard concurred. "On the molecular level, the brains of honey bees and humans work the same. Knowing how chronic alcohol use affects genes and proteins in the honey bee brain may help us eventually understand how alcoholism affects memory and behavior in humans, as well as the molecular basis of addiction." The researchers presented their work on October 23 in San Diego at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference.

Honey bees were secured into a small harness made from a piece of drinking straw. The researchers then fed bees solutions of sucrose and ethanol, with several ethanol concentrations ranging from 10 to 100 percent. The 10 percent solution was equivalent to drinking wine, Wright said, while the 100 percent solution, which contained no sucrose, was equivalent to drinking 200-proof grain alcohol. A group of control bees was given sucrose only.

The scientists fed the bees and then observed them for 40 minutes, tracking the insects’ behaviors – how much time each bee spent walking, standing still, grooming, flying and upside down on its back. Blood ethanol concentrations increased with time and with the amount of ethanol each bee had consumed. Behavioral differences between the bees depended on the amount of ethanol ingested.

The bees that had consumed the highest concentrations of ethanol – 50, 75 and 100 percent – spent a majority of the observation period on their backs, unable to stand. This effect happened early on, within the first 10 minutes of the observation period. They also spent almost no time grooming or flying. "These bees had lost postural control," Mustard said. "They couldn’t coordinate their legs well enough to flip themselves back over again." Except for the control bees, bees that had consumed the least amount of ethanol – 10 percent – spent the least amount of time upside down. Even then, it took about 20 minutes for ethanol’s effect to set in and cause this behavior.

The researchers hope to learn how alcohol consumption affects social behavior as well as gain a better understanding of the basic mechanisms that drive alcohol addiction and tolerance. "Honey bees are very social animals, which makes them a great model for studying the effects of alcohol in a social context," Wright said. "Many people get aggressive when they drink too much," she continued. "We want to learn if ethanol consumption makes the normally calm, friendly honey bee more aggressive. We may be able to examine how ethanol affects the neural basis of aggression in this insect, and in turn learn how it affects humans."

Mustard and Wright conducted this research with Ohio State colleagues Brian Smith, a professor of entomology, and Ian Maze, an undergraduate student studying microbiology.

This research was funded in part by the Ohio State University Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award and the National Institutes of Health.

Julie Mustard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit
21.08.2017 | Hokkaido University

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>