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DNA tags may dictate bee behavior

Chemical alterations affect genetic activity but not content

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11:54am, September 18, 2012

Reversible changes that dictate how genes function may determine what jobs honeybees do in the hive.

Worker honeybees are literally born to be nurses that take care of larvae. After two to three weeks, the workers become foragers. That career change is accompanied by the addition of chemical tags called methyl groups to some of their genes, says a team of researchers led by epigeneticist Andrew Feinberg of Johns Hopkins University and biologist Gro Amdam of Arizona State University in Tempe and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Aas.

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