Amdam lab, Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
AGING AND NUTRIONAL PHYSIOLOGY IN ANIMAL MODELS
EXTREME LIFESPAN DIFFERENCES IN HONEY BEES.Colonies of highly social honey bees consist of siblings with lifespans that vary between a few days and several years. Such enormous lifespan plasticity may challenge common views on aging as something inevitable once an individual reaches a certain age. Using the honey bee we study how extreme aging plasticity is regulated by social interactions, by genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, and by food and nutrition.
HOW TO SLOW BRAIN AGING?Decades of research on learning and other brain functions make the honey bee particularly well-suited for studies of individual differences in brain aging. By combining in-lab and free-flight assays we could demonstrate that brain aging in the bee displays complex patterns of behavioral dysfunction that resemble mammalian brain aging. Curiously, different patterns of brain aging emerge as a function of specific social behaviors. To test how aging depends on social behaviors we measure different markers of functional and cellular senescence in response to shifts in social functions. Recent projects study winter bees, a unique worker type, where negligible senescence may be achieved by abandoning brood care and foraging behaviors.
A LIFE PROLONGING MOLECULE?The egg-yolk protein vitellogenin has remarkable effects on longevity and health, including immune function. These effects may explain the large aging differences we observe between different worker types of bees. To better understand the versatile actions of vitellogenin we study the molecular architecture, localization, binding properties, cleavage patterns and phosphorylation states of this protein (collaboration with Dr. Heli Salmela, University of Helsinki, Finland).
BEHAVIORAL REVERSION AS THE KEY TO REJUVENATION?The reversal from a short-lived to a longer-lived worker bee is one of the most striking examples of plastic aging in the animal kingdom. In our lab we routinely use experimental assays to reverse aging patterns. We study how reversal affects the brain’s protein matrix, metabolic enzymes, neuronal messengers and epigenetic states (cooperation with the Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at the Oslo University Hospital and the Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim).
NUTRITIONAL PHYSIOLOGY AND LIFESPAN.Diet, micronutrient balance and gut health have major impacts on overall health, pathology aging. The honey bee model allows quick, large-cohort screenings for dietary effects on lifespan. Our recent work seeks to understand how diet-induced epigenetic effects can slow aging. Other projects study links between lactic acid bacteria of the bees’ gut and bee health (cooperation with Prof. B. Dzung, and Prof. Knut Rudi, IKBM), and screen for nutritional effects on lifespan and mitochondrial function (cooperation with Prof. B. Egelandsdal, IKBM, under the program platform Ecology of Food Perception).