, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 450–458 | Cite as

Control of mandibular gland pheromone synthesis by alternative splicing of the CP-2 transcription factor gemini in honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica)

  • Antje Jarosch-Perlow
  • Abdullahi A. Yusuf
  • Christian W. W. Pirk
  • Robin M. Crewe
  • Robin F. A. Moritz
Original article


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.


RNA 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.

Funding information

Financial support was granted by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (RFAM; MO 373/30-1), the South African National Research Foundation’s (NRF) incentive funding to CWWP, RMC, and Research Career Advancement (RCA) fellowship to AAY (Grant no. 91419).


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Copyright information

© INRA, DIB and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antje Jarosch-Perlow
    • 1
  • Abdullahi A. Yusuf
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christian W. W. Pirk
    • 2
  • Robin M. Crewe
    • 2
  • Robin F. A. Moritz
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für Biologie, Zoologie – Molekulare ÖkologieMartin-Luther Universität Halle-WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany
  2. 2.Social Insects Research Group, Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaHatfieldRepublic of South Africa
  3. 3.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)LeipzigGermany

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