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Social Genes

Scientists study the social behavior of bees

Jun 16, 2015
A complex conglomerate of genes determines the social behavior of bees.

An international team of scientists has studied the genetic mechanisms which determine the social behavior of bees. The researchers from Europe, Asia and America compared ten genomes of different bee species, which vary in the complexity of their social behavior.
 
The study suggests that several conglomerates consisting of different genes are responsible for the social organization of bees. The more complex the social structures are, the more genes are joined in the compound – and the more mechanisms for gene regulation exist. For example, the scientists found more binding sites, which activate or deactivate a gene, in highly socialized bee species. A fascinating result for Karin Kapheim of State University Utah, who led the study. She sees the switch from solitary living, as most wild bees do, to community living, as with honey bees for example, as “one of the major transitions in evolution.”
 
Prof. Dr. Moritz of the Biological Institute at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg summarizes the results of the study: “There is no single gene which makes bees social.” Rather, a complex interaction of genetic sequences and regulation is responsible.

You can read the article of the Scientist Magazine here.

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