Multiple lineages, same molecular basis: task specialization is commonly regulated across all eusocial bee groups

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Natalia de Souza Araujo, M. C. Arias

Abstract

A striking feature of advanced insect societies is the existence of workers that forgo reproduction. Two broad types of workers exist in eusocial bees: nurses which care for their young siblings and the queen, and foragers who guard the nest and forage for food. Comparisons between this two worker subcastes have been performed in honeybees, but data from other bees are scarce. To understand whether similar molecular mechanisms are involved in nurse-forager differences across distinct species, we compared gene expression and DNA methylation profiles between nurses and foragers of the buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris and of the stingless bee Tetragonisca angustula. These datasets were then discussed comparatively to previous findings on honeybees. Our analyses revealed that although the expression pattern of genes is often species-specific, many of the biological processes and molecular pathways involved are common. Moreover, DNA methylation and gene expression correlation were dependent on the nucleotide context.

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