Honeybee study holds clues for humans

European honeybees show their flash-dance side

European honeybees show their flash-dance side

I recently moved from small-town Illinois to big-city California, and now a new article has me wondering if this move could have changed my genes. In this article for Pacific Standard, science writer David Dobbs explains how bees, birds and even humans respond to their environment on a genetic level.

For example, when European honeybees are raised in a killer bee colony, they not only act more aggressive, but they begin to resemble killer bees on a genetic level. Their actual DNA code doesn’t change, but certain angry-bee genes switch on.

So if a scientist scooped me up, took a biopsy and flash-froze it with liquid nitrogen, what would she find? Do slow-driving, “yes, Ma’am”ing Midwesterners express different genes than tanned, high-strung Californians? I’d Kickstart a study to find that out.

Dobbs’ article includes a great quote from UCLA researcher Steve Cole. An animated guy, Cole chats with Dobbs over a plate of sushi:

“This is what a cell is about. A cell,” he said, clasping some amberjack, “is a machine for turning experience into biology.”

Well said. Read the full article


About Madeline McCurry-Schmidt

I'm a science writer specializing in biological sciences and animal behavior.
This entry was posted in Insects, Notes from Madeline and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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