Seed World

Forager Bees ‘Turn On’ Gene Expression to Protect Against Microorganisms, Toxins

Three University of California, Davis, scientists discover that when honeybees shift from nurse bees to foragers, or from caring for the brood to foraging for nectar and pollen, the bees “turn on” gene expression to protect against microorganisms and degrade toxins.
Their findings on bee immunity and toxin metabolism are published in Scientific Reports by the Nature Publishing Group.
“First, the results suggest that forager bees may use antimicrobial peptides — short sequences of amino acids with general activity — to reduce microbial growth in stored food resources,” says Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “This would be a largely unrecognized way that bees protect honey and potentially other stored resources from microbial spoilage. Second, this work shows that forager bees produce toxin-degrading enzymes in nectar-processing tissues.”
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