The evolution of honey bee brains
Published:24 May2023    Source:University of Tokyo
Researchers have proposed a new model for the evolution of higher brain functions and behaviors in the Hymenoptera order of insects.
The team compared the Kenyon cells, a type of neuronal cell, in the mushroom bodies (a part of the insect brain involved in learning, memory and sensory integration) of "primitive" sawflies and sophisticated honey bees. They found that three diverse, specialized Kenyon cell subtypes in honey bee brains appear to have evolved from a single, multifunctional Kenyon cell-subtype ancestor. In the future, this research could help us better understand the evolution of some of our own higher brain functions and behaviors.

"We would like to clarify whether the model presented here is applicable to the evolution of other behaviors," said Takayoshi Kuwabara, doctoral student and lead author from the Graduate School of Science. "There are many mysteries about the neural basis that controls social behavior, whether in insects, animals or humans. How it has evolved still remains largely unknown. I believe that this study is a pioneering work in this field."