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They are what they eat, and so are we

Posted on March 8, 2012 by James Kohl.

From Science NOW

To Boldly Go Where No Bee Has Gone

by Helen Fields on 8 March 2012, 2:40 PM

Excerpt: “A new study examines scouts’ brains and finds that novelty-seeking in humans and bees seems to be based on some of the same genes.

My comment: It’s becoming more difficult for me to keep up with advances like this because they are coming so rapidly. Earlier today, for example, I noticed an article indicating conservation of gonadotropin releasing hormone across insects, which helps to establish an evolutionary continuum from microbes to man. But this article on bees is central to the continuum, so I attempted to add my comments (pending approval) to the Science Magazine site. Typically, I would wait to read these articles in their entirety, but I have no time to do this right now.


What the queen eats metabolizes to pheromones that determine everything involved in the behavior of the colony, including the neuroanatomy of worker bee brains. Does this new evidence suggest that what the scouts eat determines neurotransmission and receptor content in brain tissue? If so, this might best exemplify nutrient-dependent calibration of individual survival, and pheromone-driven standardization and control of speciation from microbes to man. In mammals, for example, we see nutrient-dependent luteinizing hormone (LH) – driven steroidogenesis linked to species specific pheromone production. And the pheromones control gonadotropin releasing hormone secretion and steroidogenesis in well-nourished conspecifics. This reciprocity is responsible for properly timed reproductive sexual behavior that depends on proper food choice and mate choice. Epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones that can be measured in assays of LH in mammals attest to the common molecular biology of species from insects to mammals, but also from microbes to man because a form of GnRH is the alpha mating pheromone of brewer’s yeast. The honeybee already serves as a model organism for studying human immunity, disease resistance, allergic reaction, circadian rhythms, antibiotic resistance, the development of the brain and behavior, mental health, longevity, diseases of the X chromosome, learning and memory, as well as conditioned responses to sensory stimuli (e.g., food odors and social odors). Shall we use the honeybee as a model for the epigenetic effects of olfactory/pheromonal input across species from microbes to man?



James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl

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What is the vomeronasal organ (VNO)?

The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is a cone-shaped organ in the nasal cavity, which is believed to be one of the body's receptors of pheromones. More, specifically, the VNO, which is part of the accessory olfactory system in the nose, does not respond to normal scents, but may detect odorless, barely perceptible pheromones.

Other schools of thought believe that it is not the VNO but rather cells in our main olfactory system and their affects on hormones secreted by the hypothalamus that are responsible for the affects of pheromones.

Learn more about the science behind pheromones here.

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