Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Royal Jelly Makes Bee Queens, Boosts Nurture Case

Date:
March 19, 2008
Source:
The Australian National University
Summary:
New research may explain why eating royal jelly destines honeybee larvae to become queens instead of workers -- and in the process adds new weight to the role of environmental factors in the nature/nurture divide. Scientists have discovered that a copious diet of royal jelly flicks a genetic switch in young bees that determines whether they'll become a queen, or live a life of drudgery.

New ANU research may explain why eating royal jelly destines honeybee larvae to become queens instead of workers – and in the process adds new weight to the role of environmental factors in the nature/nurture divide.

Related Articles


Scientists from the Research School of Biological Sciences at ANU have discovered that a copious diet of royal jelly flicks a genetic switch in young bees that determines whether they’ll become a queen, or live a life of drudgery.

Their findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Science.

“Royal jelly seems to chemically modify the bee’s genome by a process called DNA methylation and disrupts the expression of genes that turn young bees into workers,” explains Dr Ryszard Maleszka.

“When we ‘silenced’ a gene controlling DNA methylation without recourse to royal jelly, we discovered that the larvae began to develop as queens with the associated fertility, rather than as infertile workers.”

Dr Maleszka and his colleagues believe this is the first time that DNA methylation has been functionally implicated in insects. The molecular process is common in vertebrates – including humans.

“If you have identical human twins, and one develops schizophrenia, then you need another mechanism to explain how this can occur when they have the same genetic blueprint,” Dr Maleszka says.

“DNA methylation links genomes to environmental factors like nutrition and modifies how genes express themselves. Discovering this in bees, which are a much simpler biological model than humans, means we have a better opportunity of understanding more about how this process occurs.”

The researchers will continue to study how DNA methylation affects bees, as they suspect that the process could also be responsible for how the insects’ brains develop, and may thus be connected to bee behaviour and even social organisation. The research suggests that environmental factors, such as how organisms are nurtured, can have a major influence on how they develop.

The research team includes Joanna Maleszka, Dr Robert Kucharski, Dr Sylvain Foret and Paul Helliwell. The current work grew out of the honeybee genome project, which mapped the entire genetic blueprint of bees. Royal jelly is a food substance secreted by adult bees that is fed in some measure to all young bees. The larvae that is chosen to be queen is fed an exclusive diet of royal jelly.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Australian National University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Australian National University. "Royal Jelly Makes Bee Queens, Boosts Nurture Case." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317152324.htm>.
The Australian National University. (2008, March 19). Royal Jelly Makes Bee Queens, Boosts Nurture Case. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317152324.htm
The Australian National University. "Royal Jelly Makes Bee Queens, Boosts Nurture Case." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317152324.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) Industrious 3D printed bionic ants working together could toil in the factories of the future, says German technology company Festo. The robotic insects cooperate and coordinate their actions and movements to achieve a common aim. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Captive-Born Panda Triplets Are Eight Months Old

Captive-Born Panda Triplets Are Eight Months Old

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) The world&apos;s only surviving captivity-born panda triplets turn eight months old, according to China’s state media. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lions Make Surprise Comeback in Gabon

Lions Make Surprise Comeback in Gabon

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) Lions have made a comeback in southeast Gabon, after disappearing for years, according to live footage from US wildlife organisation Panthera. Duration: 00:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ancient Egyptian Beer Making Vessels Discovered in Israel

Ancient Egyptian Beer Making Vessels Discovered in Israel

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) Fragments of pottery used by Egyptians to make beer and dating back 5,000 years have been discovered on a building site in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said on Sunday. Duration: 00:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins