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Queen pheromone modulates the expression of epigenetic modifier genes in the brain of honeybee workers

Citation

Cardoso Jr., Carlos; Ronai, Isobel; Hartfelder, Klaus; Oldroyd, Benjamin (2020), Queen pheromone modulates the expression of epigenetic modifier genes in the brain of honeybee workers, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.s4mw6m959

Abstract

Pheromones are used by many insects to mediate social interactions. In the highly eusocial honeybee (Apis mellifera) queen mandibular pheromone (QMP) is involved in the regulation of the reproductive and other behaviour of workers. The molecular mechanisms by which QMP acts are largely unknown. Here we investigate how genes responsible for epigenetic modifications to DNA, RNA and histones respond to the presence of QMP in the environment. We show that several of these genes are upregulated in the honeybee brain when workers are exposed to artificial QMP. We propose that pheromonal communication systems, such as those used by social insects, evolved to respond to environmental signals by making use of existing epigenomic machineries.

Methods

Relative gene expression data were generated by RT-qPCR assays.