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 Seeing on the Quick: New Insights into Active Vision in the Brain
15.08.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht New Approach to Treating Chronic Itch
15.08.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>