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Unlike us, honeybees naturally make 'quick switch' in their biological clocks, says Hebrew University researcher
Date:10/13/2010

Jerusalem, Oct. 13, 2010 Unlike humans, honey bees, when thrown into highly time-altered new societal roles, are able to alter their biological rhythms with alacrity, enabling them to make a successful "quick switch" in their daily routines, according to research carried out at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

With people, on the other hand, disturbances to their biological clocks by drastic changes in their daily schedules are known to cause problems -- for example for shift workers and for new parents of crying, fitful babies. Disturbance of the biological clock the circadian rhythm can also contribute to mood disorders. On a less severe scale, international air travelers all know of the "jet lag" disturbance to their biological clocks caused by traveling across several time zones.

Bees, however, have now been shown to be highly resilient to such change. When removed from their usual roles in the hive, the bees were seen to quickly and drastically change their biological rhythms, according to a study by Prof. Guy Bloch of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University. His research is published in the current edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The changes, he found, were evident in both the bees' behavior and in the "clock genes" that drive their internal biological clocks. These findings indicate that social environment had a significant effect on both behaviour and physiology.

Circadian rhythm, the body's "internal clock," regulates daily functions. A few "clock genes" control many actions, including the time of sleeping, eating and drinking, temperature regulation and hormone fluctuations. However, exactly how that clock is affected by -- and affects -- social interactions with other animals is unknown.

Bloch and his colleagues Dr. Yair Shemesh, Ada Eban-Rothschild, and Mira Cohen chose to study bees in p
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

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