Control of mandibular gland pheromone synthesis by alternative splicing of the CP-2 transcription factor gemini in honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica)
- 39 Downloads
The honeybee queen’s mandibular gland pheromones (QMP) are essential for the suppression of worker reproduction. Worker ovary activation is regulated by alternative splicing of a CP2-transcription factor named gemini. Since workers with activated ovaries also produce QMP in their mandibular glands, we tested whether alternative splicing of gemini also controls mandibular gland pheromone biosynthesis in workers using RNA interference. Altering the splice pattern of gemini resulted in enhanced levels of the queen-specific components of the mandibular gland pheromone in queenless honeybee workers, suggesting that gemini functions as a pleiotropic regulatory switch influencing both ovary activation and resulting in QMP synthesis in workers. Because the QMP produced by these workers suppresses ovary activation in other workers, gemini seems to be a key regulatory gene affecting reproductive hierarchies among workers in queenless colonies.
KeywordsRNA interference ovary activation worker reproduction reproductive dominance pheromone
We thank Denise Kleber and Petra Leibe for their technical assistance.
AJP and RFAM concieved the idea, and AJP and AAY performed experiments and analysed and interpreted data. All authors participated in writing and revising the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
- Butler, C.G., R.K. Callow, N.C. Johnston. (1962) The isolation and synthesis of queen substance, 9-oxodec-trans-2-enoic acid, a honeybee pheromone. Proc. R. Soc. B-Biol. Sc. 3: 417–432.Google Scholar
- Chorsky, R., J.M. Belote. (1994) Genitalia missing (gem): an autosomal recessive mutant that affects development of the genital disc derivates. D.I.S 75.Google Scholar
- Crewe, R. M. (1982) Compositional variability: the key to the social signals produced by honey bee mandibular glands: In The Biology of Social Insects, Proceedings of the ninth congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 318:322.Google Scholar
- Hess, G. (1942) Über den Einfluß der Weisellosigkeit und des Fruchtbarkeitsvitamins E auf die Ovarien der Bienenarbeiterin Ein Beitrag zur Frage der Regulationen im Bienenstaat. Beihefte zur Schweizerischen Bienen-Zeitung, 2: 33–111.Google Scholar
- Onions, G.W. (1912) South African fertile-worker bees. S. Afr. Agric. J. 1: 720–728.Google Scholar
- Simon, U., R.F.A. Moritz, R.M, Crewe. (2001) The ontogenetic pattern of mandibular gland components in queenless worker bees (Apis mellifera capensis esch.). J. Insect Physiol. 47: 735–738.Google Scholar
- Winston, M.L. (1987) The biology of the honey bee (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA).Google Scholar