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Honeybees can discriminate between food at different temperatures, an ability that may assist them in locating the warm, sugar-rich nectar or high-protein pollen.
The work builds on a previous UCSD study showing that bumblebees returning to nests with higher-quality pollen were warmer than bees that collected pollen with less protein. Training bees to stick out their tongues in return for a sugary reward when the team touched a warm surface to a bee's antenna, the researchers found that bees could learn to identify warmth with food. Next, they tested whether the bees could learn to associate temperature differences with a food reward and discovered that this was also the case.
This enhanced ability to distinguish warmer temperature differences could be an advantage for gathering nectar in many flowers. For example, the temperature in the centers of daffodils can be up to 8 degrees Celsius warmer than outside the blossoms.
The finding appeared in the Journal of Experimental Biology (http://bit.ly/5OCh65).
When you eat may be just as vital to your health as what you eat. Experiments in mice, conducted at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, revealed that the daily waxing and waning of thousands of genes in the liver is mostly controlled by food intake and not by the body's circadian clock as previously thought. The findings could explain why shift workers are unusually prone to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and obesity.
In the Salk experiment, gene expression in the liver was monitored in normal and clock-deficient mice that were put on strictly controlled feeding and fasting schedules. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (http://bit.ly/5CFUxA).