Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene that helps honey bees find flowers (and get back home) discovered

Date:
May 29, 2013
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Honey bees don't start out knowing how to find flowers or even how to get around outside the hive. Before they can forage, they must learn to navigate a changing landscape and orient themselves to the sun. In a new study, researchers report that a regulatory gene known to be involved in the detection of novelty in vertebrates also kicks into high gear in the brains of honey bees when they are learning how to find food and bring it home.

A regulatory gene that aids learning and the detection of novelty in vertebrates increases in activity in the honey bee brain whenever it explores an unfamiliar environment.
Credit: Daniel Prudek / Fotolia

Honey bees don't start out knowing how to find flowers or even how to get around outside the hive. Before they can forage, they must learn how to navigate a changing landscape and orient themselves in relation to the sun.

Related Articles


In a new study, researchers report that a regulatory gene known to be involved in learning and the detection of novelty in vertebrates also kicks into high gear in the brains of honey bees when they are learning how to find food and bring it home.

Activity of this gene, called Egr, quickly increases in a region of the brain known as the mushroom bodies whenever bees try to find their way around an unfamiliar environment, the researchers observed. This gene is the insect equivalent of a transcription factor found in mammals. Transcription factors regulate the activity of other genes.

The researchers found that the increased Egr activity did not occur as a result of exercise, the physical demands of learning to fly or the task of memorizing visual cues; it increased only in response to the bees' exposure to an unfamiliar environment. Even seasoned foragers had an uptick in Egr activity when they had to learn how to navigate in a new environment.

"This discovery gives us an important lead in figuring out how honey bees are able to navigate so well, with such a tiny brain," said Gene Robinson, a professor of entomology and neuroscience and director of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. "And finding that it's Egr, with all that this gene is known to do in vertebrates, provides another demonstration that some of the molecular mechanisms underlying behavioral plasticity are deeply conserved in evolution." Robinson led the study with graduate student Claudia Lutz.


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.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. C. Lutz, G. E. Robinson. Activity-dependent gene expression in honey bee mushroom bodies in response to orientation flight. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2013; 216 (11): 2031 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.084905

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Gene that helps honey bees find flowers (and get back home) discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130529144329.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2013, May 29). Gene that helps honey bees find flowers (and get back home) discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130529144329.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Gene that helps honey bees find flowers (and get back home) discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130529144329.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) A goblin shark, a rare sea creature described as an &apos;alien of the deep&apos; is found off Australia and delivered to the Australian Museum in Sydney. Duration: 01:25 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Hundreds of snakes, disturbed by a construction project, were relocated to a wildlife rescue association in Canada. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Buzz60 (Mar. 2, 2015) Zookeepers at the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh, Australia decided to take some of their favorite animal photos and recreate them by posing just like the animals. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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