Saturday, May 30, 2015

Genetic study on the difference between worker, queen and male bees

I stumbled across the article "From Worker to Queen at the drop of a gene" today while searching Science daily and found this pretty interesting.

The article and study discuss how the genome for male, worker, and queen bees are extremely similar and the differentiation between the roles depends on which genes are activated thought the bee's lifetime. ("The findings suggest that differentiation is not caused by inherited genetic difference, as is typical of most species of animal, meaning that males, which hatch from unfertilized eggs, are genetically very similar to their sisters.") Although the bees are hatched with some slight determination of what their role will be, the events in the lives can change this predisposition and cause certain genes to activate. The behavior and physiology of the male and queen bees hardly overlap. What I found interesting was "the differentiation between the castes in bees is similar to cell differentiation in humans."

the buff tailed bumblebee (used in the study)

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