New Components of Epigenetic 'Code' for Honey Bee Development Discovered

sciencedaily.com   12/11/12

Researchers from the UK and Australia have uncovered a new element of the honeybee's genetic makeup, which may help to explain why bees are so sensitive to environmental changes.

Scientists from the University of Sheffield, Queen Mary, University of London and the Australian National University, have found that honeybees have a 'histone code' -- a series of marks on the histone proteins around which their DNA is wrapped in order to fit into the nucleus of a cell. This code is known to exist in humans and other complex organisms in order to control changes in cell development -- but this is the first time it's been discovered in the honeybee.

Histone codes can also be affected by nutrition and environmental factors, so the scientists believe the finding may be another part of the puzzle to explain how eating royal jelly ensures honeybee larvae turn into queens and not workers. "The development of different bees from the same DNA in the larvae is one of the clearest examples of epigenetics in action - Read more...