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Hemocyte-mediated phagocytosis differs between honey bee (Apis mellifera) worker castes

Description

Honey bees as other insects rely on the innate immune system for protection against diseases. The innate immune system includes the circulating hemocytes (immune cells) that clear pathogens from hemolymph

Honey bees as other insects rely on the innate immune system for protection against diseases. The innate immune system includes the circulating hemocytes (immune cells) that clear pathogens from hemolymph (blood) by phagocytosis, nodulation or encapsulation. Honey bee hemocyte numbers have been linked to hemolymph levels of vitellogenin. Vitellogenin is a multifunctional protein with immune-supportive functions identified in a range of species, including the honey bee. Hemocyte numbers can increase via mitosis, and this recruitment process can be important for immune system function and maintenance. Here, we tested if hemocyte mediated phagocytosis differs among the physiologically different honey bee worker castes (nurses, foragers and winter bees), and study possible interactions with vitellogenin and hemocyte recruitment. To this end, we adapted phagocytosis assays, which—together with confocal microscopy and flow cytometry—allow qualitative and quantitative assessment of hemocyte performance. We found that nurses are more efficient in phagocytic uptake than both foragers and winter bees. We detected vitellogenin within the hemocytes, and found that winter bees have the highest numbers of vitellogenin-positive hemocytes. Connections between phagocytosis, hemocyte-vitellogenin and mitosis were worker caste dependent. Our results demonstrate that the phagocytic performance of immune cells differs significantly between honey bee worker castes, and support increased immune competence in nurses as compared to forager bees. Our data, moreover, provides support for roles of vitellogenin in hemocyte activity.

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Date Created
  • 2017-09-06

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Cytosine modifications in the honey bee (Apis mellifera) worker genome

Description

Epigenetic changes enable genomes to respond to changes in the environment, such as altered nutrition, activity, or social setting. Epigenetic modifications, thereby, provide a source of phenotypic plasticity in many

Epigenetic changes enable genomes to respond to changes in the environment, such as altered nutrition, activity, or social setting. Epigenetic modifications, thereby, provide a source of phenotypic plasticity in many species. The honey bee (Apis mellifera) uses nutritionally sensitive epigenetic control mechanisms in the development of the royal caste (queens) and the workers. The workers are functionally sterile females that can take on a range of distinct physiological and/or behavioral phenotypes in response to environmental changes. Honey bees have a wide repertoire of epigenetic mechanisms which, as in mammals, include cytosine methylation, hydroxymethylated cytosines, together with the enzymatic machinery responsible for these cytosine modifications. Current data suggests that honey bees provide an excellent system for studying the “social repertoire” of the epigenome. In this review, we elucidate what is known so far about the honey bee epigenome and its mechanisms. Our discussion includes what may distinguish honey bees from other model animals, how the epigenome can influence worker behavioral task separation, and how future studies can answer central questions about the role of the epigenome in social behavior.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-02-06

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The Worker Honeybee Fat Body Proteome Is Extensively Remodeled Preceding a Major Life-History Transition

Description

Honeybee workers are essentially sterile female helpers that make up the majority of individuals in a colony. Workers display a marked change in physiology when they transition from in-nest tasks

Honeybee workers are essentially sterile female helpers that make up the majority of individuals in a colony. Workers display a marked change in physiology when they transition from in-nest tasks to foraging. Recent technological advances have made it possible to unravel the metabolic modifications associated with this transition. Previous studies have revealed extensive remodeling of brain, thorax, and hypopharyngeal gland biochemistry. However, data on changes in the abdomen is scarce. To narrow this gap we investigated the proteomic composition of abdominal tissue in the days typically preceding the onset of foraging in honeybee workers.
In order to get a broader representation of possible protein dynamics, we used workers of two genotypes with differences in the age at which they initiate foraging. This approach was combined with RNA interference-mediated downregulation of an insulin/insulin-like signaling component that is central to foraging behavior, the insulin receptor substrate (irs), and with measurements of glucose and lipid levels.
Our data provide new insight into the molecular underpinnings of phenotypic plasticity in the honeybee, invoke parallels with vertebrate metabolism, and support an integrated and irs-dependent association of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism with the transition from in-nest tasks to foraging.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011-09-28

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Morphometric Identification of Queens, Workers and Intermediates in In Vitro Reared Honey Bees (Apis mellifera)

Description

In vitro rearing is an important and useful tool for honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) studies. However, it often results in intercastes between queens and workers, which are normally are

In vitro rearing is an important and useful tool for honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) studies. However, it often results in intercastes between queens and workers, which are normally are not seen in hive-reared bees, except when larvae older than three days are grafted for queen rearing. Morphological classification (queen versus worker or intercastes) of bees produced by this method can be subjective and generally depends on size differences. Here, we propose an alternative method for caste classification of female honey bees reared in vitro, based on weight at emergence, ovariole number, spermatheca size and size and shape, and features of the head, mandible and basitarsus. Morphological measurements were made with both traditional morphometric and geometric morphometrics techniques. The classifications were performed by principal component analysis, using naturally developed queens and workers as controls. First, the analysis included all the characters. Subsequently, a new analysis was made without the information about ovariole number and spermatheca size. Geometric morphometrics was less dependent on ovariole number and spermatheca information for caste and intercaste identification. This is useful, since acquiring information concerning these reproductive structures requires time-consuming dissection and they are not accessible when abdomens have been removed for molecular assays or in dried specimens. Additionally, geometric morphometrics divided intercastes into more discrete phenotype subsets. We conclude that morphometric geometrics are superior to traditional morphometrics techniques for identification and classification of honey bee castes and intermediates.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015-04-20

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Transfer of Immunity from Mother to Offspring Is Mediated via Egg-Yolk Protein Vitellogenin

Description

Insect immune systems can recognize specific pathogens and prime offspring immunity. High specificity of immune priming can be achieved when insect females transfer immune elicitors into developing oocytes. The molecular

Insect immune systems can recognize specific pathogens and prime offspring immunity. High specificity of immune priming can be achieved when insect females transfer immune elicitors into developing oocytes. The molecular mechanism behind this transfer has been a mystery. Here, we establish that the egg-yolk protein vitellogenin is the carrier of immune elicitors. Using the honey bee, Apis mellifera, model system, we demonstrate with microscopy and western blotting that vitellogenin binds to bacteria, both Paenibacillus larvae – the gram-positive bacterium causing American foulbrood disease – and to Escherichia coli that represents gram-negative bacteria. Next, we verify that vitellogenin binds to pathogen-associated molecular patterns; lipopolysaccharide, peptidoglycan and zymosan, using surface plasmon resonance. We document that vitellogenin is required for transport of cell-wall pieces of E. coli into eggs by imaging tissue sections. These experiments identify vitellogenin, which is distributed widely in oviparous species, as the carrier of immune-priming signals. This work reveals a molecular explanation for trans-generational immunity in insects and a previously undescribed role for vitellogenin.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-07-31

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Gustatory Perception and Fat Body Energy Metabolism Are Jointly Affected by Vitellogenin and Juvenile Hormone in Honey Bees

Description

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) provide a system for studying social and food-related behavior. A caste of workers performs age-related tasks: young bees (nurses) usually feed the brood and other adult

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) provide a system for studying social and food-related behavior. A caste of workers performs age-related tasks: young bees (nurses) usually feed the brood and other adult bees inside the nest, while older bees (foragers) forage outside for pollen, a protein/lipid source, or nectar, a carbohydrate source. The workers' transition from nursing to foraging and their foraging preferences correlate with differences in gustatory perception, metabolic gene expression, and endocrine physiology including the endocrine factors vitellogenin (Vg) and juvenile hormone (JH). However, the understanding of connections among social behavior, energy metabolism, and endocrine factors is incomplete. We used RNA interference (RNAi) to perturb the gene network of Vg and JH to learn more about these connections through effects on gustation, gene transcripts, and physiology. The RNAi perturbation was achieved by single and double knockdown of the genes ultraspiracle (usp) and vg, which encode a putative JH receptor and Vg, respectively. The double knockdown enhanced gustatory perception and elevated hemolymph glucose, trehalose, and JH. We also observed transcriptional responses in insulin like peptide 1 (ilp1), the adipokinetic hormone receptor (AKHR), and cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG, or “foraging gene” Amfor). Our study demonstrates that the Vg–JH regulatory module controls changes in carbohydrate metabolism, but not lipid metabolism, when worker bees shift from nursing to foraging. The module is also placed upstream of ilp1, AKHR, and PKG for the first time. As insulin, adipokinetic hormone (AKH), and PKG pathways influence metabolism and gustation in many animals, we propose that honey bees have conserved pathways in carbohydrate metabolism and conserved connections between energy metabolism and gustatory perception. Thus, perhaps the bee can make general contributions to the understanding of food-related behavior and metabolic disorders.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012-06-28

Genomic correlates of recombination rate and its variability across eight recombination maps in the western honey bee (Apis mellifera L.)

Description

Background
Meiotic recombination has traditionally been explained based on the structural requirement to stabilize homologous chromosome pairs to ensure their proper meiotic segregation. Competing hypotheses seek to explain the emerging

Background
Meiotic recombination has traditionally been explained based on the structural requirement to stabilize homologous chromosome pairs to ensure their proper meiotic segregation. Competing hypotheses seek to explain the emerging findings of significant heterogeneity in recombination rates within and between genomes, but intraspecific comparisons of genome-wide recombination patterns are rare. The honey bee (Apis mellifera) exhibits the highest rate of genomic recombination among multicellular animals with about five cross-over events per chromatid.
Results
Here, we present a comparative analysis of recombination rates across eight genetic linkage maps of the honey bee genome to investigate which genomic sequence features are correlated with recombination rate and with its variation across the eight data sets, ranging in average marker spacing ranging from 1 Mbp to 120 kbp. Overall, we found that GC content explained best the variation in local recombination rate along chromosomes at the analyzed 100 kbp scale. In contrast, variation among the different maps was correlated to the abundance of microsatellites and several specific tri- and tetra-nucleotides.
Conclusions
The combined evidence from eight medium-scale recombination maps of the honey bee genome suggests that recombination rate variation in this highly recombining genome might be due to the DNA configuration instead of distinct sequence motifs. However, more fine-scale analyses are needed. The empirical basis of eight differing genetic maps allowed for robust conclusions about the correlates of the local recombination rates and enabled the study of the relation between DNA features and variability in local recombination rates, which is particularly relevant in the honey bee genome with its exceptionally high recombination rate.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-02-21

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Juvenile hormone regulation of Drosophila aging

Description

Background
Juvenile hormone (JH) has been demonstrated to control adult lifespan in a number of non-model insects where surgical removal of the corpora allata eliminates the hormone’s source. In contrast,

Background
Juvenile hormone (JH) has been demonstrated to control adult lifespan in a number of non-model insects where surgical removal of the corpora allata eliminates the hormone’s source. In contrast, little is known about how juvenile hormone affects adult Drosophila melanogaster. Previous work suggests that insulin signaling may modulate Drosophila aging in part through its impact on juvenile hormone titer, but no data yet address whether reduction of juvenile hormone is sufficient to control Drosophila life span. Here we adapt a genetic approach to knock out the corpora allata in adult Drosophila melanogaster and characterize adult life history phenotypes produced by reduction of juvenile hormone. With this system we test potential explanations for how juvenile hormone modulates aging.
Results
A tissue specific driver inducing an inhibitor of a protein phosphatase was used to ablate the corpora allata while permitting normal development of adult flies. Corpora allata knockout adults had greatly reduced fecundity, inhibited oogenesis, impaired adult fat body development and extended lifespan. Treating these adults with the juvenile hormone analog methoprene restored all traits toward wildtype. Knockout females remained relatively long-lived even when crossed into a genotype that blocked all egg production. Dietary restriction further extended the lifespan of knockout females. In an analysis of expression profiles of knockout females in fertile and sterile backgrounds, about 100 genes changed in response to loss of juvenile hormone independent of reproductive state.
Conclusions
Reduced juvenile hormone alone is sufficient to extend the lifespan of Drosophila melanogaster. Reduced juvenile hormone limits reproduction by inhibiting the production of yolked eggs, and this may arise because juvenile hormone is required for the post-eclosion development of the vitellogenin-producing adult fat body. Our data do not support a mechanism for juvenile hormone control of longevity simply based on reducing the physiological costs of egg production. Nor does the longevity benefit appear to function through mechanisms by which dietary restriction extends longevity. We identify transcripts that change in response to juvenile hormone independent of reproductive state and suggest these represent somatically expressed genes that could modulate how juvenile hormone controls persistence and longevity.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013-07-17

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Development of an RNA Interference Tool, Characterization of Its Target, and an Ecological Test of Caste Differentiation in the Eusocial Wasp Polistes

Description

Recent advancements in genomics provide new tools for evolutionary ecological research. The paper wasp genus Polistes is a model for social insect evolution and behavioral ecology. We developed RNA interference

Recent advancements in genomics provide new tools for evolutionary ecological research. The paper wasp genus Polistes is a model for social insect evolution and behavioral ecology. We developed RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene silencing to explore proposed connections between expression of hexameric storage proteins and worker vs. gyne (potential future foundress) castes in naturally-founded colonies of P. metricus. We extended four fragments of putative hexamerin-encoding P. metricus transcripts acquired from a previous study and fully sequenced a gene that encodes Hexamerin 2, one of two proposed hexameric storage proteins of P. metricus. MALDI-TOF/TOF, LC-MSMS, deglycosylation, and detection of phosphorylation assays showed that the two putative hexamerins diverge in peptide sequence and biochemistry. We targeted the hexamerin 2 gene in 5th (last)-instar larvae by feeding RNAi-inducing double-stranded hexamerin 2 RNA directly to larvae in naturally-founded colonies in the field. Larval development and adult traits were not significantly altered in hexamerin 2 knockdowns, but there were suggestive trends toward increased developmental time and less developed ovaries, which are gyne characteristics. By demonstrating how data acquisition from 454/Roche pyrosequencing can be combined with biochemical and proteomics assays and how RNAi can be deployed successfully in field experiments on Polistes, our results pave the way for functional genomic research that can contribute significantly to learning the interactions of environment, development, and the roles they play in paper wasp evolution and behavioral ecology.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011-11-01

The genomes of two key bumblebee species with primitive eusocial organization

Description

Background
The shift from solitary to social behavior is one of the major evolutionary transitions. Primitively eusocial bumblebees are uniquely placed to illuminate the evolution of highly eusocial insect societies.

Background
The shift from solitary to social behavior is one of the major evolutionary transitions. Primitively eusocial bumblebees are uniquely placed to illuminate the evolution of highly eusocial insect societies. Bumblebees are also invaluable natural and agricultural pollinators, and there is widespread concern over recent population declines in some species. High-quality genomic data will inform key aspects of bumblebee biology, including susceptibility to implicated population viability threats.

Results
We report the high quality draft genome sequences of Bombus terrestris and Bombus impatiens, two ecologically dominant bumblebees and widely utilized study species. Comparing these new genomes to those of the highly eusocial honeybee Apis mellifera and other Hymenoptera, we identify deeply conserved similarities, as well as novelties key to the biology of these organisms. Some honeybee genome features thought to underpin advanced eusociality are also present in bumblebees, indicating an earlier evolution in the bee lineage. Xenobiotic detoxification and immune genes are similarly depauperate in bumblebees and honeybees, and multiple categories of genes linked to social organization, including development and behavior, show high conservation. Key differences identified include a bias in bumblebee chemoreception towards gustation from olfaction, and striking differences in microRNAs, potentially responsible for gene regulation underlying social and other traits.

Conclusions
These two bumblebee genomes provide a foundation for post-genomic research on these key pollinators and insect societies. Overall, gene repertoires suggest that the route to advanced eusociality in bees was mediated by many small changes in many genes and processes, and not by notable expansion or depauperation.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-04-24