Reversible Switching Between Epigenetic States in Honeybee Behavioral Subcastes

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Oct;15(10):1371-3. doi: 10.1038/nn.3218. Epub 2012 Sep 16.

Abstract

In honeybee societies, distinct caste phenotypes are created from the same genotype, suggesting a role for epigenetics in deriving these behaviorally different phenotypes. We found no differences in DNA methylation between irreversible worker and queen castes, but substantial differences between nurses and forager subcastes. Reverting foragers back to nurses reestablished methylation levels for a majority of genes and provides, to the best of our knowledge, the first evidence in any organism of reversible epigenetic changes associated with behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / genetics
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • DNA Methylation / physiology*
  • Epigenomics*
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / physiology
  • Phenotype

Substances

  • Insect Proteins