Behaviour 2019
Social caste determination in honey bees via genome-editing
Hongmei Li-Byarlay. Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio, United States

Honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) are one of the best systems to study behavioral ecology and social evolution, as they exhibit compelling traits such as caste determination among queens and workers.  Integrating recombinant DNA into a host genome has proved to be a powerful tool for evolutionary studies.  Genome editing via CRISPR/Cas9 is developing at a fast pace in recent few years.  Royal jelly as an environmental nutrition factor determines the destiny of female larvae in a natural colony.  Diploid female larvae can develop either into queen bees or worker bees.  It is known that knockdown of the DNA methyltransferase 3 (dnmt3) gene by RNA interference induces female larvae development from the worker bee to the queen-like phenotype, a similar role as royal jelly. The mechanism of how dnmt3 affects caste determination during larval development is still not clear.  We report here the development of a new method to achieve genome editing and functional genomic analysis of dnmt3. Our ultimate goal is a mechanistic understanding of the regulation of caste determination in social insects.  Caste determination is a necessary requirement for the evolution of sociality.