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Methylation and worker reproduction in the bumble-bee (Bombus terrestris)

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journal contribution
posted on 19.03.2014, 16:34 by Harindra E. Amarasinghe, Crisenthiya I. Clayton, Eamonn B. Mallon
Insects are at the dawn of an epigenetics era. Numerous social insect species have been found to possess a functioning methylation system, previously not thought to exist in insects. Methylation, an epigenetic tag, may be vital for the sociality and division of labour for which social insects are renowned. In the bumble-bee Bombus terrestris, we found methylation differences between the genomes of queenless reproductive workers and queenless nonreproductive workers. In a follow up experiment, queenless workers whose genomes had experimentally altered methylation were more aggressive and more likely to develop ovaries compared with control queenless workers. This shows methylation is important in this highly plastic reproductive division of labour. Methylation is an epigenetic tag for genomic imprinting (GI). It is intriguing that the main theory to explain the evolution of GI predicts that GI should be important in this worker reproduction behaviour.

Funding

NERC grant no. NE/H010408/1 to E.B.M.

History

Citation

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2014, 281 (1780), 20132502

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND PSYCHOLOGY/School of Biological Sciences/Department of Biology

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Publisher

The Royal Society

issn

0962-8452

eissn

1471-2954

Copyright date

2014

Available date

19/03/2014

Publisher version

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1780/20132502

Language

en