Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Honey bee mystery protein is a freight train for health and lifespan

This is an illustration of the "locomotive" part of the vitellogenin protein in honey bees.

Credit: Heli Havukainen
This is an illustration of the "locomotive" part of the vitellogenin protein in honey bees.

Credit: Heli Havukainen

Abstract:
Why are bee colonies worldwide suffering mysterious deaths? A unique study describes a single bee protein that can promote bee health and solve a major economic challenge.

Honey bee mystery protein is a freight train for health and lifespan

Norway | Posted on November 29th, 2011

Honey bees are the most effective pollinators of many agricultural crops and vitally important to food production.

Honey bee health is a topic of considerable concern due to massive deaths of bee colonies in the USA and Europe. Recently, the European Union reacted by promising more resources for honey bee research, estimating European pollination to an economic value of EUR 22 billion.

"Detailed studies on the molecules that keep bees healthy are extremely important to the food industry as well as the global provision of food," said dr. Heli Havukainen, who defended her PhD thesis at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) on November 25. Her study of honey bees is a collaboration between UMB and the University of Bergen (UiB), Norway.

More protein = better health and longer life

One of these molecules is a protein called vitellogenin. "Simply put, the more vitellogenin in bees, the longer they live. Vitellogenin also guides bees to do different social tasks, such caregiving or foraging. It also supports the immune function and is an antioxidant that promotes stress resistance. In my research, I set out to find out how this molecule is shaped and how it behaves on a nano-scale. This provides us with more knowledge about how vitellogenin is good for honey bees," Havukainen said.

Like a freight train

Under the supervision of Professor Gro Amdam (UMB and Arizona State University) and Associate Professor Řyvind Halskau (UiB), Havukainen discovered that vitellogenin can be described as a freight train consisting of a locomotive and a carriage. The protein carries fat as its cargo, which it picks up in the bees' belly-fat cells - the main station. The vitellogenin "train" travels in the bee's blood and delivers the fat cargo at different local stops or stations.

"I found out that, instead of starting the train journey from the fat cell main station, some vitellogenin molecules are divided in two, so the locomotive is separated from its cargo. The cargo cannot move without a locomotive and it stays in the fat cells, while the locomotive disappears. We soon realised that this is a typical behaviour for the vitellogenin molecule," Havukainen said.

Prior to this study, scientists believed vitellogenin to be one entity, like a cargo ship, unable to separate from its cargo. Therefore, Havukainen's new discovery is a big step forward for research that aims to keep bees healthy and long lived.

"We figured out that vitellogenin can drop its fat cargo as a reaction to changing chemical conditions. How this "drop" occurs and which factor makes the locomotive move and leave its cargo are important questions in the protein world, and probably equally important to the bee," Havukainen said.

What's up with the train hitch?

The research group believes that the separation of vitellogenin in two parts is a key to understanding how the protein works. They are now in search of the factor that breaks the fragile connection, or the train hitch of the protein, and lets the locomotive go.

"My discovery is that vitellogenin is not one entity. It consists of two functional parts. Now, I want to stop the separation process, so the locomotive and fat cargo are always together. This will help us figure out why the locomotive sometimes ditches its cargo and travels around on its own, and what the consequences are for the bees. This way, we can learn how vitellogenin affects social behaviour, immunity and stress resistance, and ultimately global food production and provision, Havukainen said.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Torunn Moe

47-416-79179

Copyright © Norwegian University of Life Sciences

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Drilling speed increased by 20% – yet another upgrade in the oil & gas sector made possible by graphene nanotubes January 15th, 2019

Chirality in 'real-time' January 14th, 2019

New materials could help improve the performance of perovskite solar cells January 11th, 2019

Media invited to open meeting on the future of quantum technology held at RIT Jan. 23-25: Leaders from NASA, NSF, NIST and Sandia National Laboratory to attend January 11th, 2019

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

2D materials may enable electric vehicles to get 500 miles on a single charge January 11th, 2019

Spintronics 'miracle material' put to the test: Physicists build devices using mineral perovskite January 11th, 2019

Cartilage could be key to safe 'structural batteries' January 11th, 2019

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Files for Regulatory Clearance to Begin Phase 1 Study of ARO-APOC3 for Treatment of Hypertriglyceridemia January 7th, 2019

Discoveries

Chirality in 'real-time' January 14th, 2019

New materials could help improve the performance of perovskite solar cells January 11th, 2019

Spintronics 'miracle material' put to the test: Physicists build devices using mineral perovskite January 11th, 2019

Cartilage could be key to safe 'structural batteries' January 11th, 2019

Announcements

Drilling speed increased by 20% – yet another upgrade in the oil & gas sector made possible by graphene nanotubes January 15th, 2019

Chirality in 'real-time' January 14th, 2019

Spintronics 'miracle material' put to the test: Physicists build devices using mineral perovskite January 11th, 2019

Cartilage could be key to safe 'structural batteries' January 11th, 2019

Food/Agriculture/Supplements

GaN Rising: UC Santa Barbara electrical and computer engineering professor Umesh Mishra to deliver 63rd Annual Faculty Research Lecture November 16th, 2018

The materials engineers are developing environmentally friendly materials: The materials engineers are developing environmentally friendly materials for producing smart textiles November 2nd, 2018

Leti Announces EU Project to Develop Powerful, Inexpensive Sensors with Photonic Integrated Circuits: REDFINCH Members Initially Targeting Applications for Gas Detection and Analysis For Refineries & Petrochemical Industry and Protein Analysis for Dairy Industry September 19th, 2018

Research brief: UMN researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria August 15th, 2018

Research partnerships

Chirality in 'real-time' January 14th, 2019

Ultra-sensitive sensor with gold nanoparticle array January 9th, 2019

DNA design that anyone can do: Computer program can translate a free-form 2-D drawing into a DNA structure January 4th, 2019

Revealing hidden spin: Unlocking new paths toward high-temperature superconductors: Berkeley Lab researchers uncover insights into superconductivity, leading potentially to more efficient power transmission January 4th, 2019

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project