Tuesday, November 16, 2010
By Bridie Smith, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/16/2010
YOU are what you eat. Grow up eating a nutrition-rich diet of royal jelly and you will become, well, royalty. Stick to honey and you are destined for life as a worker.
That is the way it is for honey bees, research published in the journal PLoS Biology shows.
But the research, led by Ryszard Maleszka, of the Australian National University's college of medicine, biology and environment, has implications for humans, too. The findings suggest environmental factors such as diet could modify the ''genetic hardware'' of the human brain, as was the case with the research that found diet not only influenced bee behaviour but its DNA.
Advertisement: Story continues below Two groups of genetically identical female bees developed from differentially fed larvae were studied at the ANU and the German Cancer Institute researchers. One group was fed highly nutritious royal jelly; the others honey. The results showed the honey-fed bees became the workers while those fed royal jelly became queen bees. But most significantly, a difference emerged in the two groups' DNA.
The implications for human health emerge because the enzymes that mark the DNA in the bee are the same ones that mark DNA in human brains...