A Search for Parent-of-Origin Effects on Honey Bee Gene Expression

G3 (Bethesda). 2015 Jun 5;5(8):1657-62. doi: 10.1534/g3.115.017814.


Parent-specific gene expression (PSGE) is little known outside of mammals and plants. PSGE occurs when the expression level of a gene depends on whether an allele was inherited from the mother or the father. Kin selection theory predicts that there should be extensive PSGE in social insects because social insect parents can gain inclusive fitness benefits by silencing parental alleles in female offspring. We searched for evidence of PSGE in honey bees using transcriptomes from reciprocal crosses between European and Africanized strains. We found 46 transcripts with significant parent-of-origin effects on gene expression, many of which overexpressed the maternal allele. Interestingly, we also found a large proportion of genes showing a bias toward maternal alleles in only one of the reciprocal crosses. These results indicate that PSGE may occur in social insects. The nonreciprocal effects could be largely driven by hybrid incompatibility between these strains. Future work will help to determine if these are indeed parent-of-origin effects that can modulate inclusive fitness benefits.

Keywords: gene expression; genomics; honey bees; imprinting; kinship theory; social insects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Bees / genetics*
  • Bees / growth & development
  • Bees / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Crossing Over, Genetic
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genotype
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide