Navigation Links
Researchers boost insect aggression by altering brain metabolism
Date:8/5/2014

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Scientists report they can crank up insect aggression simply by interfering with a basic metabolic pathway in the insect brain. Their study, of fruit flies and honey bees, shows a direct, causal link between brain metabolism (how the brain generates the energy it needs to function) and aggression.

The team reports its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new research follows up on previous work from the laboratory of University of Illinois entomology professor and Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson, who also led the new analysis. When he and his colleagues looked at brain gene activity in honey bees after they had faced down an intruder, the team found that some metabolic genes were suppressed. These genes play a key role in the most efficient type of energy generation in cells, a process called oxidative phosphorylation.

"It was a counterintuitive finding because these genes were down-regulated," Robinson said. "You tend to think of aggression as requiring more energy, not less."

In the new study, postdoctoral researcher Clare Rittschof used drugs to suppress key steps in oxidative phosphorylation in the bee brains. She saw that aggression increased in the drugged bees in a dose-responsive manner, Robinson said. But the drugs had no effect on chronically stressed bees they were not able to increase their aggression in response to an intruder. (Watch a video of honey bees responding to an intruder.)

"Something about chronic stress changed their response to the drug, which is a fascinating finding in and of itself," Robinson said. "We want to know just how this experience gets under their skin to affect their brain."

In separate experiments, postdoctoral researcher Hongmei Li-Byarlay and undergraduate student Jonathan Massey found that reduced oxidative phosphorylation in fruit flies also increased aggression. Using advanced fly genetics, the team found this effect only when oxidative phosphorylation was reduced in neurons, but not in neighboring cells known as glia. This result, too, was surprising, since "glia are metabolically very active, and are the energy storehouses of the brain," Robinson said.

The findings offer insight into the immediate and longer-term changes that occur in response to threats, Robinson said.

"When an animal faces a threat, it has an immediate aggressive response, within seconds," Robinson said. But changes in brain metabolism take much longer and cannot account for this immediate response, he said. Such changes likely make individuals more vigilant to subsequent threats.

"This makes good sense in an ecological sense," Robinson said, "because threats often come in bunches."

The fact that the researchers observed these effects in two species that diverged 300 million years ago makes the findings even more compelling, Robinson said.

"Because fruit flies and honey bees are separated by 300 million years of evolution, this is a very robust and well-conserved mechanism," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. UC Santa Barbara researchers discover genetic link between visual pathways of hydras and humans
3. Researchers attempt to solve problems of antibiotic resistance and bee deaths in one
4. UNH researchers find African farmers need better climate change data to improve farming practices
5. Ottawa researchers to lead world-first clinical trial of stem cell therapy for septic shock
6. Researchers uncover molecular pathway through which common yeast becomes fungal pathogen
7. Researchers print live cells with a standard inkjet printer
8. Columbia Engineering and Penn researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements
9. Researchers reveal how a single gene mutation leads to uncontrolled obesity
10. Researchers discover novel therapy for Crohns disease
11. New paper by Notre Dame researchers describes method for cleaning up nuclear waste
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers boost insect aggression by altering brain metabolism
(Date:12/15/2016)... VANCOUVER, Canada and BADEN-BADEN, Germany ... Solutions, a leading global financial services provider, today announced an ... in passive behavioural biometrics, to join forces. The partnership will ... fraud mitigation strategies in compliance with local data protection regulation. ... In ...
(Date:12/15/2016)...  There is much more to innovative access systems ... Continental will demonstrate the intelligence of today,s solutions at ... Through the combination of the keyless entry and start ... the international technology company is opening up new possibilities ... "The integration of biometric elements brings our expertise ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  Singulex, Inc., the ... Counting technology, entered into a license and supply agreement ... science. The agreement provides Singulex access to Thermo Scientific ... Europe is used to diagnose systemic bacterial ... States to aid in assessing the risk ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 24, 2017 , ... ... waist circumference, and increased serum leptin levels had a positive association with increased ... The study published in the International Neurourology Journal involved 571 Korean men ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... January 23, 2017 , ... ... science through unique partnerships, seeks outstanding early career nominees for the 2017 New ... to meeting the needs of a world in which one in nine people ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 23, 2017   Instrument Business Outlook ... Minneapolis, MN ) the 2016 Company ... most authoritative newsletter tracking developments in the analytical ... "Bio-Techne consistently achieved outstanding technical, operational and ... Managing Editor of IBO. "In 2016, Bio-Techne capitalized ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... , Jan. 23, 2017   Enteris BioPharma, ... study agreement with Sanofi to leverage Enteris, ... platform, Peptelligenceā„¢, to develop an oral formulation of one ... Joel Tune , Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman ... further validation of the tremendous value our Peptelligence platform ...
Breaking Biology Technology: