Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bees reveal nature-nurture secrets: Extensive molecular differences in brains of workers and queen

Date:
November 3, 2010
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
The nature-nurture debate is a "giant step" closer to being resolved after scientists studying bees documented how environmental inputs can modify our genetic hardware. The researchers uncovered extensive molecular differences in the brains of worker bees and queen bees which develop along very different paths when put on different diets.

In a new study, researchers uncovered extensive molecular differences in the brains of worker bees and queen bees which develop along very different paths when put on different diets.
Credit: iStockphoto/Florin Tirlea

The nature-nurture debate is a "giant step" closer to being resolved after scientists studying bees documented how environmental inputs can modify our genetic hardware. The researchers uncovered extensive molecular differences in the brains of worker bees and queen bees which develop along very different paths when put on different diets.

Related Articles


The research was led by Professor Ryszard Maleszka of The Australian National University's College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, working with colleagues from the German Cancer Institute in Heidelberg, Germany and is published in the online, open access journal PLoS Biology.

Their work reveals for the first time the intricacies of the environmentally-influenced chemical 'marking of DNA' called DNA methylation, which has the capacity to alter gene expression without affecting the genetic code -- a process referred to as 'epigenetic', or above the genome.

"This marking determines which genes are to be fine-tuned in the brains of workers and queens to produce their extraordinarily different behaviours. This finding is not only crucial, but far reaching, because the enzymes that mark DNA in the bee are also the enzymes that mark DNA in human brains," said Professor Maleszka.

"In the bees, more than 550 genes are differentially marked between the brain of the queen and the brain of the worker, which contributes to their profound divergence in behaviour. This study provides the first documentation of extensive molecular differences that may allow honey bees to generate different reproductive and behavioural outcomes as a result of differential feeding with royal jelly."

Professor Maleszka said that the work goes a long way to answering one of life's biggest questions.

"This study represents a giant step towards answering one of the big questions in the nature-nurture debate, because it shows how the outside world is linked to DNA via diet, and how environmental inputs can transiently modify our genetic hardware," he said.

"Similar studies are impossible to do on human brains, so the humble honey bees are the pioneers in this fascinating area."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Frank Lyko, Sylvain Foret, Robert Kucharski, Stephan Wolf, Cassandra Falckenhayn, Ryszard Maleszka. The Honey Bee Epigenomes: Differential Methylation of Brain DNA in Queens and Workers. PLoS Biology, 2010; 8 (11): e1000506 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000506

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Bees reveal nature-nurture secrets: Extensive molecular differences in brains of workers and queen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102171606.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2010, November 3). Bees reveal nature-nurture secrets: Extensive molecular differences in brains of workers and queen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102171606.htm
Public Library of Science. "Bees reveal nature-nurture secrets: Extensive molecular differences in brains of workers and queen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102171606.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) Video provided by AP
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