Navigation Links
Insulin signaling key to caste development in bees

What makes a bee grow up to be a queen? Scientists have long pondered this mystery. Now, researchers in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University have fit a new piece into the puzzle of bee development. Their work not only adds to understanding about bees, but also adds insights into our own development and aging.

The study, which appeared in the June 30 online edition of Biology Letters, shows that a key protein in the insulin signaling pathway plays a strong role in caste development among bees.

A female bee can become either a worker or a queen. Queen bees are larger and live longer than workers. Queen bees are also fertile while workers are essentially sterile. A queen has only one roleto lay eggswhile workers tend the hive, care for the queen and larvae, and forage for food.

"The incredible thing is that both of these types of female honeybees emerge from the same genome," says Florian Wolschin, an assistant research professor in the School of Life Sciences in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the lead author of the study. "So how does that happen?"

Workers determine the fate of the larvae by what they feed them. The amount and composition of food that the larvae receive determine whether they become workers or queens. People have known this for many years, but exactly what happens inside the cells to create this split isn't completely clear.

Wolschin, Gro Amdam, an associate professor, and Navdeep S. Mutti, a postdoctoral research associate, found that the insulin signaling pathway plays a role in caste development. Insulin is a hormone found in humans and many other animals, and insulin-like peptides have been discovered in bees. Insulin moves glucosesugarfrom the bloodstream into the body's cells where it can be used.

The researchers suppressed one of the key proteins in this pathway in honeybee larvae. The protein, called the insulin receptor substrate (IRS), has been linked to growth, development and reproduction in mice. The researchers fed the altered larvae a queen's diet, but they developed into workers, not queens.

IRS is only one component of the process that decides a bee's ultimate fate. Wolschin says several other molecules are known to play a role, including DNA methyltransferase, juvenile hormone and a protein called TOR.

"Those are all very important and fundamental mechanisms," says Wolschin. "One single part cannot alone be responsible. It has to be the interplay between different mechanisms that finally results in the divergence of queens and workers."

The researchers are now looking at the interconnections between several of these factors. "We want to see if maybe there's a hierarchy involved. Several of the components are probably 'upstream' of other processes. So they serve as mass regulators and switches," says Wolschin.

Honeybees are vitally important to our economy through pollination of crops as well as production of honey, wax and royal jelly. Understanding bee biology is crucial to maintaining this industry in the face of problems like colony collapse disorder.

Wolschin adds that bees also provide an important model system that can help us understand our own biology. For example, scientists have successfully reversed many signs of aging in worker bees.

"That is pretty unique," says Wolschin. "You don't have other model organisms in aging research that can do that."


Contact: Margaret Coulombe
Arizona State University

Related biology news :

1. For insulin sensitive overweight patients, 1 session of exercise improves metabolic health
2. Decreasing insulin resistance prevents obesity-related cardiovascular damage
3. Findings show insulin -- not genes -- linked to obesity
4. Nanodiamonds deliver insulin for wound healing
5. Pitt study finds molecular link between insulin resistance and inflammation
6. Diabetes advance: Researchers find gene that causes resistance to insulin
7. CHEO RI study uses sophisticated genetic engineering to improve insulin-producing beta cells
8. New gene variants associated with glucose, insulin levels, some with diabetes risk
9. Scripps research scientists find new link between insulin and core body temperature
10. Structure of insulins docking point identified
11. Insulin-like signal needed to keep stem cells alive in adult brain
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Insulin signaling key to caste development in bees
(Date:11/10/2015)... 10, 2015  In this report, the ... of product, type, application, disease indication, and ... report are consumables, services, software. The type ... biomarkers, efficacy biomarkers, and validation biomarkers. The ... diagnostics development, drug discovery and development, personalized ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2015  SRI International has been awarded a contract ... services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer ... expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation ... toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, ... the explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, and the ... book, The Internet of Healthy Things ... or smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected ... health care delivery, moving care from the hospital or ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds the ... (CRO) market. The trend of outsourcing to low-cost ... but higher volume share for the region in ... however, margins in the CRO industry will improve. ... ( ), finds that the market ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ... New York on Wednesday, December 2 at ... , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... will provide a corporate overview. --> th Annual ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... year and one of the premier annual events for pharmaceutical manufacturing: 2015 Annual ... November 2015, where ISPE hosted the largest number of attendees in more than ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 ... new market research report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market by Product ... (PCR, Gene Synthesis, Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User (Research, Pharmaceutical ... published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to reach ... in 2015, at a CAGR of 10.1% during the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: