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Old 08-26-2009, 10:30 AM   #1
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bumblebee Honey-bee Aggression Study Suggests Nurture Alters Nature

Honey-bee Aggression Study Suggests Nurture Alters Nature

ScienceDaily (Aug. 18, 2009) A new study reveals that changes in gene expression in the brain of the honey bee in response to an immediate threat have much in common with more long-term and even evolutionary differences in honey-bee aggression. The findings lend support to the idea that nurture (an organism's environment) may ultimately influence nature (its genetic inheritance).

Honey-bee Aggression Study Suggests Nurture Alters Nature
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Honey bees respond aggressively only if their hive is disturbed. But when disturbed they mount a vigorous defense the all too familiar bee sting. The researchers observed that changes that occur in the brain of a European honey bee after it is exposed to alarm pheromone (a chemical signal that the hive is in danger) look a lot like the more gradual changes that occur over the bee's lifetime. (Old bees are more aggressive than young bees.)

Even more striking was the finding of a very similar pattern of brain gene expression in Africanized honey bees. In terms of brain gene expression, Africanized bees "look" like they were just exposed to a whiff of alarm pheromone, even though they weren't.
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