Here we report the genome sequence of the honeybee Apis mellifera, a key model for social behaviour and essential to global ecology through pollination. Compared with other sequenced insect genomes, the A. mellifera genome has high A+T and CpG contents, lacks major transposon families, evolves more slowly, and is more similar to vertebrates for circadian rhythm, RNA interference and DNA methylation genes, among others. Furthermore, A. mellifera has fewer genes for innate immunity, detoxification enzymes, cuticle-forming proteins and gustatory receptors, more genes for odorant receptors, and novel genes for nectar and pollen utilization, consistent with its ecology and social organization. Compared to Drosophila, genes in early developmental pathways differ in Apis, whereas similarities exist for functions that differ markedly, such as sex determination, brain function and behaviour. Population genetics suggests a novel African origin for the species A. mellifera and insights into whether Africanized bees spread throughout the New World via hybridization or displacement.
Oogenesis in insects is typically a nutrient-limited process, triggered only if sufficient nourishment is available. This nourishment can be acquired during the larval or adult stage, depending on the insect. Timing of food intake will have major effects on mechanisms of hormonal control. When nourishment for eggs is taken primarily by adults, insufficient nutrition inhibits egg development through mechanisms such as inhibition of corpora allata, as seen in Orthoptera and Blattaria. In adult Diptera, lack of protein inhibits release of brain factors that produce reproductive competency or ovarian stimulation. Lepidoptera have been characterized as lacking substantial regulation of oogenesis because egg development is underway at emergence. Many species for which ecological data are available do not mobilize reserves carried over from the larval stage until they feed as adults. The endocrine mechanisms underlying these systems are poorly understood. In many insects, mating and activity can affect nutritional state and therefore oogenesis. Mating can stimulate oogenesis through mobilization of reserves or through nutritional contributions by males to females. Activity, especially flight, and oogenesis can compete for energy. The flight apparatus, especially the muscle, can also compete with oogenesis for protein. Social insects exhibit extreme specializations in oogenesis; females range in fertility from completely sterile to hyperfecund. Food flow within colonies is a major factor regulating fecundity. Finally, maternal nourishment is not needed for oogenesis in parasitoids and pseudoplacental viviparous insects, which produce eggs with little or no yolk. Virtually nothing is known about the endocrine regulation of oogenesis on these insects.
Ants dominate many terrestrial ecosystems, yet we know little about their nutritional physiology and ecology. While traditionally viewed as predators and scavengers, recent isotopic studies revealed that many dominant ant species are functional herbivores. As with other insects with nitrogen-poor diets, it is hypothesized that these ants rely on symbiotic bacteria for nutritional supplementation. In this study, we used cloning and 16S sequencing to further characterize the bacterial flora of several herbivorous ants, while also examining the beta diversity of bacterial communities within and between ant species from different trophic levels. Through estimating phylogenetic overlap between these communities, we tested the hypothesis that ecologically or phylogenetically similar groups of ants harbor similar microbial flora. Our findings reveal: (i) clear differences in bacterial communities harbored by predatory and herbivorous ants; (ii) notable similarities among communities from distantly related herbivorous ants and (iii) similar communities shared by different predatory army ant species. Focusing on one herbivorous ant tribe, the Cephalotini, we detected five major bacterial taxa that likely represent the core microbiota. Metabolic functions of bacterial relatives suggest that these microbes may play roles in fixing, recycling, or upgrading nitrogen. Overall, our findings reveal that similar microbial communities are harbored by ants from similar trophic niches and, to a greater extent, by related ants from the same colonies, species, genera, and tribes. These trends hint at coevolved histories between ants and microbes, suggesting new possibilities for roles of bacteria in the evolution of both herbivores and carnivores from the ant family Formicidae.
Many insects show polyphenisms, or alternative morphologies, which are based on differential gene expression rather than genetic polymorphism. Queens and workers are alternative forms of the adult female honey bee and represent one of the best known examples of insect polyphenism. Hormonal regulation of caste determination in honey bees has been studied in detail, but little is known about the proximate molecular mechanisms underlying this process, or any other such polyphenism. We report the success of a molecular-genetic approach for studying queen-and workerspecific gene expression in the development of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Numerous genes appear to be differentially expressed between the two castes. Seven differentially expressed loci described here belong to at least five distinctly different evolutionary and functional groups. Two are particularly promising as potential regulators of caste differentiation. One is homologous to a widespread class of proteins that bind lipids and other hydrophobic ligands, including retinoic acid. The second locus shows sequence similarity to a DNAbinding domain in the Ets family of transcription factors. The remaining loci appear to be involved with downstream changes inherent to queen-or worker-specific developmental pathways. Caste determination in honey bees is typically thought of as primarily queen determination; our results make it clear that the process involves specific activation of genes in workers as well as in queens.
Complex worker caste systems have contributed to the evolutionary success of advanced ant societies; however, little is known about the developmental processes underlying their origin and evolution. We combined hormonal manipulation, gene expression, and phylogenetic analyses with field observations to understand how novel worker subcastes evolve. We uncovered an ancestral developmental potential to produce a "supersoldier" subcaste that has been actualized at least two times independently in the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole. This potential has been retained and can be environmentally induced throughout the genus. Therefore, the retention and induction of this potential have facilitated the parallel evolution of supersoldiers through a process known as genetic accommodation. The recurrent induction of ancestral developmental potential may facilitate the adaptive and parallel evolution of phenotypes.
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.
334 Leonard St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Copyright © 2023 scite LLC. All rights reserved.
Made with 💙 for researchers
Part of the Research Solutions Family.