Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study of bees links gene regulatory networks in the brain to behavior

Date:
September 26, 2011
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
A new study reveals that distinct networks of genes in the honey bee brain contribute to specific behaviors, such as foraging or aggression, researchers report.

A new study reveals that distinct networks of genes in the honey bee brain contribute to specific behaviors, such as foraging or aggression, researchers report.

Related Articles


The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to show that common, naturally occurring behaviors are under the influence of discrete regulatory networks in the brain. It confirms, scientists say, what years of research into the brain and behavior seemed to indicate: There is a close relationship between changes in gene expression -- which genes are actively transcribed into other molecules to perform specific tasks in the cell -- and behavior.

"We found that there is a high degree of modularity in the regulation of genes and behavior, with distinct behavioral states represented by distinct gene network configurations," said University of Illinois entomology and neuroscience professor Gene Robinson, who led the study. Robinson is the director of the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois.

The study made use of data from the BeeSpace Project. Curated by Illinois medical information science professor Bruce Schatz, BeeSpace is a catalog of genes that turn on or off in the bee brain in response to social cues, environmental changes or as a result of hereditary factors. By analyzing gene expression and behavioral data from dozens of studies (which were performed under the auspices of the BeeSpace Project), the researchers were able to get a broad view of the molecular changes in the bee brain that contribute to behavior.

The team focused their analysis on lists of genes implicated in at least one of three categories of behavior: foraging, such as scouting for flowers or navigating to and from the hive; maturation, the process by which an adult honey bee graduates from being a nanny to working as a forager as it grows older; and aggression, or hive defense.

The researchers then used a systems approach, led by Illinois chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Nathan Price (now at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle), to create a computer model of a gene regulatory network that could predict the differences in gene expression seen in the experimental studies.

The model found a "mosaic" pattern of behavior-related gene expression in the brain. It also predicted that a few transcription factors -- genes that regulate other genes -- play a role in all three behavioral categories. Only four of these "global regulators" were identified, while sets of about 15-25 transcription factors were behavior-specific.

Researchers have long worried that the regulation of brain gene expression is too complex to fathom, because so many factors can act together to regulate behavior.

"But now we see that direct, linear relationships between transcription factors and downstream genes can predict a surprisingly large amount of gene expression," Price said. "This gives scientists hope that it will be possible to completely understand the regulation of brain gene expression in the future."

Funding for this study was provided by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Study of bees links gene regulatory networks in the brain to behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926151733.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2011, September 26). Study of bees links gene regulatory networks in the brain to behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926151733.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Study of bees links gene regulatory networks in the brain to behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926151733.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) A collection of dinosaur bones reveal a creature that is far more weird and goofy-looking than scientists originally thought when they found just the arm bones nearly 50 years ago, according to a new report in the journal Nature. (Oct. 22) 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