Polyphenic castes in eusocial bees, resulting from the adoption of alternative division of labor strategies selected throughout evolution, are distinguished primarily by differences in their reproductive potential. In Apis mellifera, among diverse caste specific characters, a pronounced dimorphism is observed, which are determined by differential nutrition received by larvae. This results in distinct Juvenile Hormone and ecdysteroid titers, which in turn regulates the activity of genes responsible for ovary differentiation at the end of larval stage and during pupal stage. The studies about the molecular machinery involved on caste ovary differentiation are still incipient. Among these we can mention the results obtained during my PhD concerning six apoptotic and autophagic genes differently expressed in larval ovaries of honey bee castes. These data represent a breakthrough on the knowledge about how differential feeding and hormonal titers mold ovarian development. The proposal of this project consist on the replacement of the "gene to gene" approach by one broad approach, using microarrays to identify differentially expressed genes on developing queen and worker ovaries . The genes identified, preferentially cell death genes, will be focused in hormonal manipulation in vivo experiments to check hormone dependent expression. Additionally, the morphology of developing queen and worker ovaries will be studied by conventional histology as well as the transcript spatial distribution of those genes on the ovarioles will be investigated by in situ hybridization. This approach is intended to obtain a broad scenario of molecular and morphological events that lead to caste ovary differentiation in A. mellifera.
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