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Queen quality: an important trait for the bee colony and the beekeper

Grant number: 13/50748-1
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: December 01, 2013 - November 30, 2015
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Animal Genetics
Convênio/Acordo: North Carolina State University
Principal Investigator:Klaus Hartmann Hartfelder
Grantee:Klaus Hartmann Hartfelder
Principal researcher abroad: David Roger Tarpy
Institution abroad: North Carolina State University (NC State), United States
Host Institution: Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto (FMRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:12/01808-9 - Transcriptional regulation of caste development in the honey bee, Apis mellifera L., AP.R

Abstract

With the queen being the sole reproductive female in the colony, her reproductive capacity will ultimately determine the genetic fitness of this entity. At the same time, the interest for having a queen of high reproductive capacity and quality is equally of interest fort the beekeeper, as this guarantees a high economic return in terms of honey. In this project we will fuse the expertise of the research group in Raleigh, with a focus on the reproductive biology of the adult queen, with that of the group at USP Ribeirão Preto, this working on the physiological and transcriptional regulation of queen/worker development in the larval stages. One crucial experiment will be to rear larvae in a queen rearing environment and treat them additionally with juvenile hormone (JH), which promotes queen development, and then see whether the resulting queens are not only morphologically queen-like but also show the full behavioral repertoire of a queen in the colony. In parallel we will sample JH treated larvae and analyze the expression of the putative JH receptor metlgce and of an immediate response gene, kr-h1, and also of genes in the hypoxia pathway, known to be overexpressed in worker larvae. With the ovary being the focal organ for reproduction, and the fact that the ovary phenotypes of queens and workers are drastically different, we will also address the question of JH treatment effects on the expression of a recently discovered long noncoding RNA in the ovaries. By joining forces in this project the two research groups expect a considerable gain in synergy to understand a fundamental question of honey bee biology, which is also of considerable interest for the practitioner. Furthermore, we expect considerable gains in the academic training of the involved graduate students. (AU)

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