Synopsis for Dr. Michelle Elekonich’s colloquium talk, “It’s not the age, it’s the mileage: honey bee behavior, stress, and aging
The second colloquium talk of the semester brought us into the world of insect physiology, as Dr. Michelle Elekonich presented research carried out by her lab on the influence of behavior on the aging process in honeybees. Much of the work presented in the talk centered around the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) on the degradation of cellular machinery, leading to an eventual decline in function, and ultimately death. ROS are produced through metabolic reactions, with production increasing with higher metabolic output. The thrust of these findings, as they are applied to honeybees, were summarized during the talk with the colorful slogan, “the more you fly, the sooner you die.” Undoubtedly, many in the audience were mentally applying findings from these studies of senescence in bees to schemes for extending their own longevity. However, before committing to a long life of sloth and açaí berries, it is worth looking more in depth at these studies of ROS and its effects in honeybees.
Margotta, J. W., G. E. Mancinelli, A. A. Benito, A. Ammons, S. P. Roberts, M. M. Elekonich, 2013. Effects of flight on gene expression and aging in the honey
bee brain and flight muscle. Insects. 4: 9-30.
Vance, J. T., J. B. Williams, M. M. Elekonich and S. P. Roberts, 2009. The effects of age and behavioral development on honey bee (Apis mellifera) flight performance. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 212: 2604-2611.
Williams, J. B., S. P. Roberts, M. M. Elekonich, 2008. Age and natural metabolically intensive behavior affect oxidative stress and antioxidant mechanisms. Experimental Gerontology. 43: 538–549.
Alan Leslie is a Ph.D. candidate in the Lamp Lab, studying aquatic macroinvertebrates and their effects in regulating ecosystem functions. His research project is focused on determining the effect that burrowing aquatic invertebrates have on nutrient transport in agricultural drainage networks.