Sep 26, 2014

CRISPR/Cas9 mediated mutations as a new tool for studying taste in honeybees

Matthieu FollRicarda Scheiner


Background: Honeybees rely on nectar as their main source of carbohydrates \[1]. Sucrose, glucose and fructose are the main components of plant nectars [2\] \[3\]. Intriguingly, honeybees express only three putative sugar receptors (AmGr1, AmGr2 and AmGr3) \[4], which is in stark contrast to many other insects and vertebrates. The sugar receptors are only partially characterized [5\] \[6\]. AmGr1 detects different sugars including sucrose and glucose. AmGr2 is assumed to act as a co-receptor only, while AmGr3 is assumedly a fructose receptor. Results: We show that honeybee gustatory receptor AmGr3 is highly specialized for fructose perception when expressed in Xenopus oocytes. When we introduced nonsense mutations to the respective AmGr3 gene using CRISPR/Cas9 in eggs of female workers, the resulting mutants displayed almost a complete loss of responsiveness to fructose. In contrast, responses to sucrose were normal. Nonsense mutations introduced by CRISPR/Cas9 in honeybees can thus induce a measurable behavioural change and serve to characterize the function of taste receptors in vivo. Conclusion: CRISPR/Cas9 is an excellent novel tool for characterizing honeybee taste receptors in vivo. Biophysical receptor characterisation i...Continue Reading

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