Honeybee (Apis mellifera) Maternal Effect Causes Alternation of DNA Methylation Regulating Queen Development
Keywords:honeybees, maternal effect, development, caste differentiation, DNA methylation
Queen-worker caste dimorphism is a typical trait for honeybees (Apis mellifera). We previously showed a maternal effect on caste differentiation and queen development, where queens emerged from queen-cell eggs (QE) had higher quality than queens developed from worker cell eggs (WE). In this study, newly-emerged queens were reared from QE, WE, and 2-day worker larvae (2L). The thorax size and DNA methylation levels of queens were measured. We found that queens emerging from QE had significantly larger thorax length and width than WE and 2L. Epigenetic analysis showed that QE/2L comparison had the most different methylated genes (DMGs, 612) followed by WE/2L (473), and QE/WE (371). Interestingly, a great number of DMGs (42) were in genes belonging to mTOR, MAPK, Wnt, Notch, Hedgehog, FoxO, and Hippo signaling pathways that are involved in regulating caste differentiation, reproduction and longevity. This study proved that honeybee maternal effect causes epigenetic alteration regulating caste differentiation and queen development.
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