Collaborative Research: Epigenetic Gene Regulation in the Social Bee Apis Mellifera

Project: Research project

Project Details


Intellectual Merit: Every cell in an organism carries the same sets of genes. However different cells perform different functions because only subsets of genes are activated in each cell. One way that cells activate specific sets of genes is by chemically modifying particular pieces of DNA. This project investigates how one such modification, DNA methylation, affects development in the honeybee. Honeybees are well-known social insects and represent important species for studying DNA methylation because of their ecological and economic importance. In addition, the differentiation of honeybee castes represents one of the most spectacular examples of developmental plasticity: queens and workers arise from the same genes through differential gene activation mediated by DNA methylation. Consequently, determining how DNA methylation affects development in honeybees would help link specific molecular mechanisms to the production of different developmental forms and provide insight into the factors affecting social behavior.

Broader Impacts: This project will result in several broader impacts to society. For example, undergraduate and graduate students will be trained in integrative multidisciplinary research. Research findings will also be implemented in university classes and laboratories. Moreover, research findings will be disseminated through popular press and scientific meetings thereby increasing scientific literacy. Finally, because honeybees are critical species for pollinating crops, these studies will contribute to improving agricultural outcomes in the United States.

Effective start/end date3/1/102/28/15


  • National Science Foundation: $261,822.00


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