The ecological and economical importance in addition to its social complexity make the honey bee, Apis mellifera, an interesting model for studies on Developmental Biology. One of the principal questions concerns the development of the gonads, since the individual's reproductive capacity is a determinant factor for division of labor. The queen is the primary reproductive female, while the workers are facultatively sterile. The males (drones), also have well developed gonads, however, their reproductive contribution is limited to the mating with a single queen during a mating flight. Accordingly, most studies on the reproductive system of bees have their focus on the morphology of the ovaries that distinguishes queens from workers. The two castes differ in the number of ovarioles that compose the ovaries, in consequence of extensive, juvenile hormone-dependent programmed cell death during larval development in workers, leading to the destruction of most of their ovarioles. Similar to queens, the testes of drones are also composed of a high number of testiolar tubules. Thus, our hypothesis is that females and males of A. mellifera may share gene regulatory modules during the development of their reproductive systems. These modules can be expected to present differences between monandric bees (stingless bees and bumblebees) and polyandric bees (Apis). The aim of this project is to characterize differentially expressed genes in male and female (queen and worker) gonads of honey bee larvae with respect to their function and regulation. In addition to the genes already identified genes by our prior work, mRNA expression profiles for gonads of critical developmental stages will be generated by RNAseq and analyzed, within an evolutionary framework, for direct comparisons between different bees species.
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