However, while Dolezal and Amdam’s studies showed that they could block queen development, and then rescue it, and clarified the role of IRS in the queen-making process, their work could not resolve the remaining conflict with Kamakura’s results. 

Taking a new tack, the Amdam group, which also included Navdeep Mutti, Florian Wolschin, and Jasdeep Mutti, and Washington State University scientist Kulvinder Gill, turned to mathematical modeling, combining their results with approaches that analyze potential partner interactions.

These models, developed to understand and clarify complex relationships in physics and biology, allowed the ASU researchers to build a model of consensus – explaining how the IRS partner protein could partner to both epidermal growth factor receptor and the insulin receptor.

And while the insulin receptor itself may play no role – as Kamakura’s findings suggest – Dolezal and Amdam’s findings show that the IRS partner protein may in fact be key to a molecular love triangle, interacting with both receptors, and with the bond to epidermal growth factor receptor being the crowning feature in queen development.

Bee larvae, housed in plastic dishes, are fed and cared for by researchers in ASU's School of Life Sciences. This laboratory setting allows for the complete control of their diet, as well as the ability to manipulate their gene expression levels and better identify developmental routes.