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FEBS Lett. 2010 Jun 18;584(12):2496-503. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2010.04.007. Epub 2010 Apr 10.

The curious case of aging plasticity in honey bees.

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Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Aas, Norway.


As in all advanced insect societies, colony-organization in honey bees emerges through a structured division of labor between essentially sterile helpers called workers. Worker bees are sisters that conduct all social tasks except for egg-laying, for example nursing brood and foraging for food. Curiously, aging progresses slowly in workers that engage in nursing and even slower when bees postpone nursing during unfavorable periods. We, therefore, seek to understand how senescence can emerge as a function of social task performance. The alternative utilization of a common yolk precursor protein (vitellogenin) in nursing and somatic maintenance can link behavior and aging plasticity in worker bees. Beneficial effects of vitellogenin may also be mediated by inhibitory action on juvenile hormone and insulin-like signaling.

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