Thursday, March 7, 2013

How bees decide what to be: Reversible 'epigenetic' marks linked to behavior patterns

How bees decide what to be: Reversible 'epigenetic' marks linked to behavior patterns

The scientists say what is most significant about the new study, described online September 16 in Nature Neuroscience, is that for the first time DNA methylation "tagging" has been linked to something at the behavioral level of a whole organism. On top of that, they say, the behavior in question, and its corresponding molecular changes, are reversible, which has important implications for human health.
According to Andy Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., Gilman scholar, professor of molecular medicine and director of the Center for Epigenetics at Hopkins' Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, the addition of DNA methylation to genes has long been shown to play an important role in regulating gene activity in changing biological systems, like fate determination in stem cells or the creation of cancer cells. Curious about how epigenetics might contribute to behavior, he and his team studied a tried-and-true model of animal behavior: bees.
Working with bee expert Gro Amdam, Ph.D., associate professor of life sciences at Arizona State University and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Feinberg's epigenetics team found significant differences in DNA methylation patterns in bees that have identical genetic sequences but vastly different behavioral patterns.
Employing a method that allows the researchers to analyze the whole genome at once, dubbed CHARM (comprehensive high-throughput arrays for relative methylation), the team analyzed the location of DNA methylations in the brains of worker bees of two different "professions." All worker bees are female and, within a given hive, are all genetically identical sisters. However, they don't all do the same thing; some nurse and some forage.

This is like horizontal evolution where circumstances around a person can change their genes, this can then change how they succeed in life and who they marry. The evolutionary system can be viewed as a tree with branches of species, this is like two pascal's triangles with their apexes touching as in the diamond graph in Aperiomics. Horizontal influences are like horizontal levels of pascal's triangle which are like normal curves. So these evolutionary influences tend to happen randomly to produce normal offspring. For example methylation of these genes might happen in a team environment where people cooperate to be similar to each other, the same influences lead to similar epigenetic changes. They might all drink green tea to be part of the team, this gives a normalizing change to the methylation of their genes, said to give more weight loss. So this horizontal evolutionary effect is more randomizing while Darwin's evolution is more revolutionary and counter revolutionary in the tree of life.This is because it is more deterministic, a person might get genes from his ancestors and give them to his descendants without any random changes. This can also be affected by mutations in genes which are like innovations in an Iv-b economy. So this epigenetic effect is like changes from team behavior in the V-Bi part of the economy. 

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