The genetic architecture of reproductive differences in workers of Africanized and European honey bees, Apis mellifera

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Allie Marie Graham (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Olav Rueppell

Abstract: The Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera) displays a special form of social behavior called eusociality. The evolution of its reproductively specialized castes and social behavior from a solitary ancestor may be explained by the reproductive ground plan hypothesis. This hypothesis predicts a relationship between the variation of ovary size and -activity and social behavior. At the phenotypic level, ovary size has been associated with a whole set of behavioral phenotypes, known as the pollen hoarding syndrome. While many of these phenotypes are potentially influenced by regulatory pathways, involving juvenile hormone and vitellogenin, the exact genetic links between ovary size determination and social behavior are still unknown. To test the generality of the hypothesized genetic linkage between reproductive and social behavior, I investigated the genetic architecture of ovary size differences between Africanized and European honey bees. Two backcrosses of a hybrid queen and Africanized drones that resulted in transgressive worker ovary phenotypes were studied for pleiotropic effects of existing behavioral QTL and potential new QTL with a combination of SNP and microsatellite markers. Analyses show small but significant effects on ovary size for some of the behavioral QTL, as predicted by the reproductive ground plan hypothesis. In addition, I detected two new QTL of major effect on ovary size. I describe potential candidate genes for the QTL and suggest that the detected major and minor effects could reflect genetic control of caste divergence and worker division of labor, respectively, representing two distinct stages of honey bee social evolution that may be connected via female reproductive physiology.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera), Eusociality
Honeybee $x Breeding.
Honeybee $x Behavior.
Africanized honeybee.
Honeybee $x Genetics.

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