Jon Snow, Assistant Professor of Biology, has observed in honey bees that the biological responses that occur when there is an increase in temperature and upon immune activation unexpectedly contradict each other. Moreover, this effect is seen uniquely in honey bees, as compared to other invertebrates. This research could be an important addition to the ongoing effort to discover the causes of honey bee disease and recent population decrease.
Prof. Snow's paper, entitled "The heat shock response and humoral immune response are mutually antagonistic in honey bees," has been published in Scientific Reports, which is an online, open access journal from the publishers of Nature.
A summary of the paper is below:
Honey bees are pollinators of critical importance to humans in both agricultural and ecological settings. Honey bee colonies have suffered from increased attrition in recent years and no single culprit has been identified. Instead, this demise is likely caused by complex interacting stresses. Our lab has been working to characterize stresses at the cellular level to better understand how various environmental pressures might synergize to cause disease in honey bees. We have found that the cellular response triggered by increased temperature, known as the heat shock response, is conserved in honey bees. Surprisingly, we have also found that heat shock represses multiple immune genes and conversely, that immune activation blunts the cellular response to increased temperature. The mutually antagonistic relationship between these two stress responses is unique among invertebrates studied to date and may have implications for understanding disease in honey bees in novel and targetable ways.
Prof. Snow's full journal article can be found at the following link: