Submitted to: Insect Molecular Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 20, 2006
Publication Date: November 1, 2006
Citation: Wheeler, D.E., Buck, N., Evans, J.D. 2006. Expression of insulin pathway genes during the period of caste determination in the honey bee, apis mellifera. Insect Molecular Biology. 15:577-582.
Interpretive Summary: Honey bee queen production reflects the quantity and quality of food given to bee larvae. This paper addresses an important route by which that food is converted into energy for bees. Specifically, this study shows how the insulin pathway can be involved in the growth and development of healthy queens. The information points to nutritional components behind the production of robust, productive queens. Since queen bee health is suspect in many parts of the U.S., an understanding of the links between nutrition and healthy queens can help government and University researchers looking for reasons behind declining queen longevity and reproduction.
Female honeybees have two castes, queens and workers. Developmental fate is determined by larval diet. Coding sequences made available through the Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Consortium allow for a pathway-based approach to understanding caste determination. We examined the expression of several genes of the insulin signaling pathway, which is central to regulation of growth based on nutrition. We found one insulin-like peptide expressed at very high levels in queen but not worker larvae. Also, the gene for an insulin receptor was expressed at higher levels in queen larvae during the 2rd larval instar. These results demonstrate that the insulin pathway is a compelling candidate for pursing the relationship between diet and downstream signals involved in caste determination and differentiation.