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Bees that are antisocial may be autistic

Bees that are antisocial may have a genetic condition similar to human autism, research suggests.

Inside a bee hive, there are 'rogue' members of the colony that appear to be indifferent to social instructions sent by their hive mates.

Rather than being sick or unintelligent, these insects may have a genetic condition that is similar to autism spectrum disorder, researchers have found.

The finding suggests that our instinct to crave company from others may be shaped by an ancient genetic toolkit that also drives the behaviour of social insects.

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Bees that are antisocial may have a genetic condition similar to human autism, research suggests (stock image)

Bees that are antisocial may have a genetic condition similar to human autism, research suggests (stock image)

HOW WAS THE STUDY CARRIED OUT? 

As part of a new study, researchers looked at 246 groups of unrelated bees and studied their responses to two key kinds of social cues.

The first cue, the appearance of an 'outsider' bee, normally elicits an aggressive reaction from a hive member.

And the second, the presence of a member of the queen's offspring, usually prompts a worker bee to start performing nurturing behaviour.

However the researchers identified a small group of insects which did not respond to either social cue.

The researchers then analysed the brains of these unresponsive brains to study the activity of genes related to social behaviour. 

This analysis revealed more than 1,000 genes in the bees' brains that were regulated differently in unresponsive bees.

And many of these genes were closely related to the heredity marks that are precursors to human autism, the researchers said. 

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects people's ability to engage socially and communicate.

As part of a new study, researchers looked at 246 groups of unrelated bees and studied their responses to two key kinds of social cues.

The first cue, the appearance of an 'outsider' bee, normally elicits an aggressive reaction from a hive member.

And the second, the presence of a member of the queen's offspring, usually

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