Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bumblebee Colonies Which Are Fast Learners Are Also Better Able To Fight Off Infection

Date:
November 2, 2008
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Like humans, bees' ability to learn appears reduced when they are ill. The prediction was that good learners would be worse at fighting infections -- but surprisingly, this was not the case.

Fast learning bees fight off infection.
Credit: Copyright Nigel Raine

Bumblebee colonies which are fast learners are also better able to fight off infection, according to scientists from Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Leicester.

Related Articles


Dr Nigel Raine from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, and Akram Alghamdi, Ezio Rosato and Eamonn Mallon from the University of Leicester tested the learning performance and immune responses of bumblebees from twelve colonies.

The team tested the ability of 180 bees to learn that yellow flowers provided the biggest nectar rewards, and to ignore blue flowers. To test the evolutionary relationship between learning and immunity, they also took workers from the same colonies and tested their immune response against bacterial infection.

Like humans, bees’ ability to learn appears reduced when they are ill. The prediction was that good learners would be worse at fighting infections – but surprisingly, this was not the case.

Writing in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, the team reports a positive relationship between a bumblebee colony’s learning performance and their immune response, as Dr Raine explains: “Bees from fast learning colonies are not only the best nectar collectors, but also better able to fight infections. These colonies are probably much better equipped to thrive under difficult conditions.”

The team expected that immunity is likely to be a really important trait in social species (like bumblebees, honeybees and ants) that have high-contact rates with closely related individuals leading to a greater chance of infection. There were big differences between colonies in how well they could fight off a bacterial infection, but these differences did not affect learning performance as previous studies had predicted.

The team found a positive correlation between the ability of a colony’s workers to learn and the strength of their immune response, so there was no evidence for an evolutionary trade-off between these traits. Dr Raine adds: “Once again the humble bee is proving more complex than most people thought. These essential pollinators learn many things in short their life and fight off a range of infections to survive.”

This research was sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alghamdi et al. No evidence for an evolutionary trade-off between learning and immunity in a social insect. Biology Letters, November 29, 2008; 1 (-1): -1 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0514

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Bumblebee Colonies Which Are Fast Learners Are Also Better Able To Fight Off Infection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030110949.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2008, November 2). Bumblebee Colonies Which Are Fast Learners Are Also Better Able To Fight Off Infection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030110949.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Bumblebee Colonies Which Are Fast Learners Are Also Better Able To Fight Off Infection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081030110949.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 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