Genomics in Development

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Science  26 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5504, pp. 555
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5504.555a

Female social insects exhibit polyphenism; that is, they exhibit various defined phenotypes (queens, workers, soldiers, etc.) according to their larval environment. No genomic differences are involved, only developmental switches resulting from different gene expression patterns triggered by worker-controlled nutritional and microenvironmental differences within the nest.

Evans and Wheeler characterize these expression patterns for a range of proteins in queen and worker honeybee larvae, showing divergences in expression during development. For instance, cytochromes from the CYP4 subfamily showed enhanced activity in workers after the third instar, while ATP synthase and cytochrome oxidase became overexpressed in fifth-instar queen larvae (the stage at which queen larvae grow at much greater rates than worker larvae). — AMS

Genome Biol., in press.

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