Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bees shed light on human sweet perception and metabolic disorders

Date:
June 29, 2012
Source:
Arizona State University
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that honey bees may teach us about basic connections between taste perception and metabolic disorders in humans. By experimenting with honey bee genetics, researchers have identified connections between sugar sensitivity, diabetic physiology and carbohydrate metabolism. Bees and humans may partially share these connections.

A new-born honey bee worker (Apis mellifera) breaks free from her nursery chamber in the colony nest. A few weeks later, she will leave the hive in search for nectar and pollen to feed her siblings and mother queen. The genes vitellogenin and ultraspiracle, which regulate the bees’ behavioral transition to foraging tasks, also coordinate their carbohydrate metabolism, blood sugar levels, sweet taste, and several metabolic genes in adipose tissue. When vitellogenin and ultraspiracle are simultaneously suppressed in adipose cells, the bees develop a metabolic syndrome similar to Type 1 diabetes.
Credit: Photo by Christofer Bang

Scientists at Arizona State University have discovered that honey bees may teach us about basic connections between taste perception and metabolic disorders in humans.

Related Articles


By experimenting with honey bee genetics, researchers have identified connections between sugar sensitivity, diabetic physiology and carbohydrate metabolism. Bees and humans may partially share these connections.

In a study published in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics (Public Library of Science), Gro Amdam, an associate professor, and Ying Wang, a research scientist, in the School of Life Sciences in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, explain how for the first time, they've successfully inactivated two genes in the bees' "master regulator" module that controls food-related behaviors. By doing so, researchers discovered a possible molecular link between sweet taste perception and the state of internal energy.

"A bee's sensitivity to sugar reveals her attitude towards food, how old the bee is when she starts searching for nectar and pollen, and which kind of food she prefers to collect," said Wang, the lead author of the paper. "By suppressing these two 'master' genes, we discovered that bees can become more sensitive to sweet taste. But interestingly, those bees also had very high blood sugar levels, and low levels of insulin, much like people who have Type 1 diabetes."

In Amdam's honey bee lab at ASU, scientists suppressed two genes including vitellogenin, which is similar to a human gene called apolipoprotein B, and ultraspiracle, which partners with an insect hormone that has some functions in common with the human thyroid hormone. The team is the first in the world to accomplish this double gene-suppressing technique. Researchers used this method to understand how the master regulator works.

"Now, if one can use the bees to understand how taste perception and metabolic syndromes are connected, it's a very useful tool," said Amdam, who also has a honey bee laboratory at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. "Most of what we know about deficits in human perceptions is from people who are very sick or have had a brain trauma. We know shockingly little about people in this area."

The researchers are now considering how, exactly, the bees' sweet taste was enhanced by the experiment. The most metabolically active tissue of the bee, called the fat body, may hold the key. The fat body is similar to the liver and abdominal fat in humans, in that it helps store nutrients and create energy.

Amdam explains that taste perception evolved as a survival mechanism, for bees as well as for people. For example, bitter foods may be poisonous or sweet taste may signal foods rich in calories for energy. For all animals, taste perception must communicate properly with one's internal energetic state to control food intake and maintain normal life functions. Without this, poorly functioning taste perception can contribute to unhealthy eating behaviors and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity.

"From this study, we realized we can take advantage of honey bees in understanding how food-related behaviors interact with internal metabolism, as well as how to manipulate these food-related behaviors in order to control metabolic disorders," added Amdam.

In addition to Amdam and Wang, the team included former ASU research partners Colin Brent, a research entomologist with the USDA, and Erin Fennern, now with Oregon Health Science University.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Ying Wang, Colin S. Brent, Erin Fennern, Gro V. Amdam. Gustatory Perception and Fat Body Energy Metabolism Are Jointly Affected by Vitellogenin and Juvenile Hormone in Honey Bees. PLoS Genetics, 2012; 8 (6): e1002779 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002779

Cite This Page:

Arizona State University. "Bees shed light on human sweet perception and metabolic disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629211804.htm>.
Arizona State University. (2012, June 29). Bees shed light on human sweet perception and metabolic disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629211804.htm
Arizona State University. "Bees shed light on human sweet perception and metabolic disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629211804.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Google X wants to improve modern medicine with nanoparticles and a wearable device. It's all an attempt to tackle disease detection and prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) 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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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