Looking to a new era in bee research

A respected UK entomology journal, Insect Molecular Biology, today publishes its Honey Bee Genome Special Issue, timed to coincide with the release of the long-awaited Honey Bee Genome Sequence, published earlier this week in Nature magazine.

The Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Project (HBGSP), a large scale communal project led by the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Human Genome Research Institute, is expected to usher in a bright new era of bee research, benefiting agriculture, biological research and human health.

Papers appearing in the Special Issue 15:5 of Insect Molecular Biology, a Royal Entomological Society journal, provide new insights into diverse topics in honey bee biology, including neurobiology and the process of caste determination, which results in reproductive queens and largely sterile workers.

They also address some of the challenges faced by honey bees, including analyses of disease resistant pathways and metabolic adaptations to an all floral diet. Several papers address ways that honey bee studies can provide insights into human health. These papers cover the genetic bases of honey bee venom allergens, along with mechanistic insights into the remarkable longevity of queen honey bees and sperm stored in the spermatheca.

The HBGSP has united a broad range of scientists, from leaders in human genomics and bioinformatics to members of diverse disciplinary and organism-based communities, including those studying mammals and humans. A total of 112 individuals in 63 institutions around the world signed on to analyse the newly available honey bee genome sequence, generating exciting results in many areas of biology.

Themes for analysis included Anti-Xenobiotic Defence Mechanisms, Bee Disease and Immunity, Brain and Behaviour, Caste Development and Reproduction, Comparative and Evolutionary Analysis, Development and Metabolism, Gene Regulation, Genome Analysis, Physical and Genetic Mapping and Chromosome Structure, Population Genetics, Repeated Sequences and Transposable Elements.

A principal focus was on the complex honey bee social lifestyle and how it differs from other solitary lifestyle insects. This large communal effort is presented in the special issue of Nature (Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Consortium, 2006), published earlier this week, and in other companion papers.

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The Royal Entomological Society's Insect Molecular Biology Special Issue 15:5 is freely available to read online at www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/ihttp://A>

All Royal Entomological Society media enquiries, please contact Liz Rogers/Amy Sutherland at Cicada Public Relations on 01423 567111 (out of hours 07973 564790). Email liz@cicada-pr.com

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Notes to Editors

  1. Founded in 1833 as the Entomological Society of London, the Royal Entomological Society plays a major national and international role in disseminating information about insects and improving communication between entomologists.

    In 1855 a Royal Charter was granted to the Entomological Society by Queen Victoria and the privilege of adding the word "Royal" to the title was granted by King George V in 1933, the Centenary of the Society's foundation.

    Many eminent scientists of the past, Darwin and Wallace to mention but two, have been Fellows of the Society. Through the years most internationally recognised entomologists have been and are, numbered among the Fellowship.

  2. Special Issue: The Honey Bee Genome Insect Molecular Biology 15:5 http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/IMB


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