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

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

A toolkit for transformable materials: How to design materials with reprogrammable shape and function January 20th, 2017

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

A toolkit for transformable materials: How to design materials with reprogrammable shape and function January 20th, 2017

'5-D protein fingerprinting' could give insights into Alzheimer's, Parkinson's January 19th, 2017

Strength of hair inspires new materials for body armor January 18th, 2017

Self-assembling particles brighten future of LED lighting January 18th, 2017

Discoveries

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

A toolkit for transformable materials: How to design materials with reprogrammable shape and function January 20th, 2017

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Announcements

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

A toolkit for transformable materials: How to design materials with reprogrammable shape and function January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale January 20th, 2017

Food/Agriculture/Supplements

PCATDES Starts Field Testing of Photocatalytic Reactors in South East Asia December 28th, 2016

News from Quorum: The Agricultural Research Service of the USDA uses a Quorum Cryo-SEM preparation system for the study of mites, ticks and other soft bodied organisms November 22nd, 2016

Water, water -- the two types of liquid water: Understanding water's behavior could help with Alzheimer's research November 11th, 2016

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years: Targeted medicine deliveries and increased energy efficiency are just two of many ways October 26th, 2016

Research partnerships

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

Chemistry on the edge: Experiments at Berkeley Lab confirm that structural defects at the periphery are key in catalyst function January 13th, 2017

Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires January 12th, 2017

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




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project