Researchers have long worried that correlating genes and behavior was "too complex to fathom, because so many factors can act together to regulate behavior."
Now new research shows how a few "master genes" can switch on and off complex behaviors, at least in bees.
Researchers found that "naturally occurring behaviors are under the influence of discrete regulatory networks in the brain ... there is a close relationship between changes in gene expression ... and behavior."
They also found "a high degree of modularity in the regulation of genes and behavior, with distinct behavioral states". Words like "discrete" and "modular" are important, as they show that complex networks created by genes can be controlled and achieve a steady state.
"The team focused their analysis on ... genes implicated in ... foraging, such as scouting for flowers ... maturation, ... and aggression, or hive defense."
Look for more informatio on the BeeSpace project which developed "a catalog of genes that turn on or off in the bee brain in response to social cues, environmental changes or as a result of hereditary factors."