Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Here we report the genome sequence of the honeybee Apis mellifera, a key model for social behaviour and essential to global ecology through pollination. Compared with other sequenced insect genomes, the A. mellifera genome has high A+T and CpG contents, lacks major transposon families, evolves more slowly, and is more similar to vertebrates for circadian rhythm, RNA interference and DNA methylation genes, among others. Furthermore, A. mellifera has fewer genes for innate immunity, detoxification enzymes, cuticle-forming proteins and gustatory receptors, more genes for odorant receptors, and novel genes for nectar and pollen utilization, consistent with its ecology and social organization. Compared to Drosophila, genes in early developmental pathways differ in Apis, whereas similarities exist for functions that differ markedly, such as sex determination, brain function and behaviour. Population genetics suggests a novel African origin for the species A. mellifera and insights into whether Africanized bees spread throughout the New World via hybridization or displacement.

Details

Authors
  • George M Weinstock
  • Eran Elhaik
  • Rita Wright
  • Honeybee Genome Sequencing Consortium
External organisations
  • University of Houston
Research areas and keywords

Keywords

  • Animals, Base Composition, Bees/genetics, Behavior, Animal, DNA Transposable Elements/genetics, Evolution, Molecular, Female, Gene Expression Regulation/genetics, Genes, Insect/genetics, Genome, Insect/genetics, Genomics, Immunity/genetics, Male, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, Physical Chromosome Mapping, Proteome/genetics, Reproduction/genetics, Signal Transduction/genetics, Social Behavior, Telomere/genetics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-949
JournalNature
Volume443
Issue number7114
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Oct 26
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
Externally publishedYes