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Arthropod Roundup

November 17, 2006

Scientists are studying honeybee societies in order to learn more about our own.


Studying bee brains to learn about ours. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne may have discovered how social cues can trigger changes in the bees genes that then cause physical changes in their brains. The change causes young honeybees to end their work as nurse bees, caring for the young, and become food foragers. The researchers suspect that social factors may trigger changes in human genes and brains using similar mechanisms. Studying bee brains could help them figure out how.

In other news, University of California at Santa Barbara researchers report that tiny housekeeper crabs may be critical to the survival of coral reefs. The little crabs find protection in the corals, and earn their keep be sweeping sediment from the corals’ surface that would otherwise choke the corals.

I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.