Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Bee discovery may improve patient post-operative care

Bee discovery may improve patient post-operative care


A University of Auckland study that proves bees navigate by building mental maps of familiar terrain has the potential to improve post-operative care of patients.

Auckland scientists, Dr James Cheeseman, Dr Guy Warman and Dr Craig Millar have solved a long-standing biological question about how honey bees navigate that has international implications.

It is already known that mammals navigate using cognitive maps – continuous mental maps of familiar terrain created through experience and continually referenced and updated.

Until now, it was unclear whether insects also navigated in the same way or by different means. For decades it was assumed bees navigated their way back to the hive by sun-compass.

The Auckland study team, led by Dr Cheeseman, from the University’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and in collaboration with neurobiologist Dr Randolf Menzel from the Free University of Berlin, tested the theory that displaced bees rely only on the remembered direction home from familiar landmarks, referenced to the sun’s position.

“We reasoned that if bees relied on the sun to navigate, then a circadian shift should disrupt the bees’ ability to locate their hive after release,” says Dr Cheeseman.

They caught the honey bees and anesthetised them for six hours, to shift their circadian clocks. Miniature transponders were fixed to each bee’s thorax to enable the bees to be radar tracked from release.

“Initially clock-shifted bees tried to use their sun compass, but realised their mistake and were able to navigate back to the hive as quickly as the control group bees,” says School of Biological Sciences, senior lecturer Craig Millar.

It had been assumed that the bee brain was too small to have a cognitive map, because it did not have enough neurons to perform computational tasks.

“By giving the bees the equivalent of jet-lag for a couple of hours that tricked them into thinking it was a different time of day, we were able to show that despite making a predictable mistake in direction on leaving the release site, they quickly corrected the angle,” says Dr Cheeseman.

“The bees don’t get lost, so they must have a backup system for navigation as well as using landmarks to get back to the hive – they are using a cognitive map to integrate their position,” he says. “They worked out where they were and within a few hundred metres had corrected their direction and got back to the hive, just as fast as the control group.”

One aspect of the study was to look at how anaesthetic may shift or disrupt the circadian clock and how that may cause post-operative sleep disruption in patients.

“This study funded by the Royal Society’s Marsden Fund is part of a broader programme of work, to learn how anesthetics clock-shifts the human biological clock and induces jet-lag like symptoms,” says Dr Cheeseman. “Our research also uses mammal models and clinical trials to see to what extent anesthetics disrupts the circadian clock.”

“We are looking at the effect of anesthesia on the circadian clock and how it impacts on navigation by honey bees, and relating that to anesthesia in clinical situations for humans.”
These findings have implications for surgery and the impact anesthesia has on causing post-operative sleep problems in people.

“If we can stop that happening, we might decrease hospital and recovery time for patients suffering from post-operative fatigue and circadian disruption,” he says.

The study findings were published this week in the journal, Proceedings of the National Sciences of America (PNAS) and were reported internationally online this week.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Half Empty: Fonterra's 2017 Opening Forecast Below Expectations

Fonterra Cooperative Group raised its forecast farmgate milk payout for next season by less than expected as the world's largest dairy exporter predicts lower prices will crimp production and supply will pick up. The New Zealand dollar fell. More>>

ALSO:

Pest Control: Mouse Blitz Team Leaves For Antipodes

The Million Dollar Mouse project to rid Antipodes Island of mice is underway with the departure of a rodent eradication team to the remote nature reserve and World Heritage Area. More>>

Gongs Got: Canon Media Awards & NZ Radio Awards Happen

Radio NZ: RNZ website The Wireless, which is co-funded by NZ On Air, was named best website, while Toby Manhire and Toby Morris won the best opinion general writing section for their weekly column on rnz.co.nz and Tess McClure won the best junior feature writer section. More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Budget: Debt Focus Risks Losing Opportunity To Stoke Economy

The Treasury is likely to upgrade its forecasts for economic growth in Budget 2016 next week but Finance Minister Bill English has already signalled that more of his focus is on debt repayment than on fiscal stimulus or tax cuts... More>>

ALSO:

Fulton Hogan's Heroes: Managing Director Nick Miller Resigns

Fulton Hogan managing director Nick Miller will leave the privately owned construction company after seven years in charge. The Dunedin-based company has kicked off a search for a replacement, and Miller will stay on at the helm until March next year, or until a successor has been appointed and a transition period completed. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Electricity, Executions, And Bob Dylan

The Electricity Authority has unveiled the final version of its pricing plan for electricity transmission. This will change the way transmission prices (which comprise about 10% of the average power bill) are computed, and will add hundreds of dollars a year to power bills for many ordinary consumers. More>>

ALSO:

Half Empty: Fonterra NZ, Australia Milk Collection Drops In Season

Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in New Zealand and Australia, its two largest markets, in the first 11 months of the season during a period of weak dairy prices. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news