Bees decrease food intake, live longer when given compound found in red wine

September 23, 2012

The idea that drinking red wine may provide health benefits – or possibly even extend your life – is an appealing thought for many people. Now, there may be added attraction. Researchers have found that when given resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, bees consume less food. 

Previous scientific studies on resveratrol show that it lengthens the lifespan of diverse organisms ranging from unicellular yeast to fruit flies and mice. Since bees are social animals like humans, a team of scientists from Arizona State University, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and Harvard Medical School, decided to test the effects of the chemical on the honey bee.  European honey bee on grapes containing resveratrol. Download Full Image

In a series of experiments published in the journal Aging, the scientists tested the effects of resveratrol on the lifespan, learning ability, and food perception in honey bees.

Their research has confirmed that not only does this compound extend the lifespan of honey bees by 33 to 38 percent, it also changes the decisions that bees make about food by triggering a “moderation effect” when they eat. 

“For the first time, we conducted several tests on the effects of resveratrol by using the honey bee as a model,” said Brenda Rascón, an ASU alumnus and doctoral student with Gro Amdam, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. “We were able to confirm that under normal living conditions, resveratrol lengthened lifespan in honey bees.”

Since resveratrol is an antioxidant, researchers also questioned whether it would be capable of diminishing the damaging effects of “free radicals” – often released during stressful conditions. Free radicals are believed to cause damage to cells, and have an effect on how we age. Resveratrol did not, however, prove to extend lives of bees living under stressful conditions.

Yet, since the bees tested with the compound were living longer, researchers asked the next question: What’s happening that is causing them to live longer?

“Because what we eat is such an important contributor to our physical health, we looked at the bees’ sensitivity to sugar and their willingness to consume it,” said Amdam. “Bees typically gorge on sugar and while it’s the best thing for them, we know that eating too much is not necessarily a good thing.”

Interestingly, Amdam, Rascón, and their research team discovered that bees given the compound were less sensitive to sugar. By using different sugar solutions – some very diluted and some with stronger concentrations – they found that bees receiving resveratrol were not as interested in eating the sugar solutions unless the sugar was highly concentrated. The bees basically changed their perception about food. 

In a final experiment, they measured how much food the bees would consume if given the opportunity to eat as much sugar water as they possibly could.

“Surprisingly, the bees that received the drug decreased their food intake,” said Rascón. “The bees were allowed to eat as much as they pleased and were certainly not starving – they simply would not gorge on the food that we know they like. It’s possible resveratrol may be working by some mechanism that is related to caloric restriction – a dietary regimen long known to extend lifespan in diverse organisms.”

The Research Council of Norway and the PEW Charitable Trust funded this study.

ASU School of Life Sciences is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Sandra Leander

Assistant Director of Media Relations, ASU Knowledge Enterprise


Ariz Court of Appeals judge, ASU law alum Randall Howe to have investiture

September 24, 2012

Judge Randall M. Howe, who sits on the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 1, and is a 1988 graduate of the Sandra Day O’Connor of Law at Arizona State University, will have his investiture on Sept. 27. He was appointed to the Court by Gov. Jan Brewer in May.

Howe’s investiture will be at the Disability Empowerment Center, at 5025 E. Washington St. in Phoenix, at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27. Download Full Image

Dean Douglas Sylvester of the College of Law said Howe’s background and experience make him ideal for the court.

“Randy has had a distinguished career in government service and was a logical choice for this key judicial position,” Sylvester said. “I have no doubt that he will continue to serve with the same degree of honor and integrity that has made him such a well-respected figure in Arizona.”

Howe joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2008, and became the Deputy Appellate Chief the following year. He represents the federal government in the U.S. Court of Appeals and supervises criminal and civil appellate matters handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Phoenix and Flagstaff offices.

Howe was with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office from 1988 to 2008, where he served as Chief Counsel of the Criminal Appeals Section, Appellate Supervisor of the Liability Management Section, and Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Appeals Section. Throughout his tenure in the Attorney General’s Office, Howe represented the State of Arizona in courts on multiple levels – and successfully argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1998, he served as Judge Pro Tem for the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 1. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Howe was an associate with the law firm of Storey & Ross, P.C.

Other notable accomplishments include serving on the Board of Directors for both the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (2005-present), being named a Distinguished Public Lawyer by the State Bar of Arizona (2007), and serving on the Attorney General Opinion Review Committee (1989-1999).

Howe graduated summa cum laude from the ASU College of Business in 1985, and received his law degree from the College of Law in 1988.