Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera

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Here we report the genome sequence of the honeybee Apis mellifera, a key model for social behaviour and essential to global ecology through pollination. Compared with other sequenced insect genomes, the A. mellifera genome has high A+T and CpG contents, lacks major transposon families, evolves more slowly, and is more similar to vertebrates for circadian rhythm, RNA interference and DNA methylation genes, among others. Furthermore, A. mellifera has fewer genes for innate immunity, detoxification enzymes, cuticle-forming proteins and gustatory receptors, more genes for odorant receptors, and novel genes for nectar and pollen utilization, consistent with its ecology and social organization. Compared to Drosophila, genes in early developmental pathways differ in Apis, whereas similarities exist for functions that differ markedly, such as sex determination, brain function and behaviour. Population genetics suggests a novel African origin for the species A. mellifera and insights into whether Africanized bees spread throughout the New World via hybridization or displacement.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)931-949
Number of pages19
Issue number7114
StatePublished - 26 Oct 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements Work at the BCM-HGSC was supported by grants from the NHGRI and USDA. BAC and fosmid Library construction was supported by a subcontract from a grant awarded to J.S.J., organized by D.B.W. (President, Bee Weaver Apiaries, Inc.). Fgenesh and Fgenesh11 analysis was donated by Softberry. Other support was received from NIH NIAID (H.M.R.), NRI Functional Genomics (G.E.R.) and Illinois Sociogenomics Initiative (G.E.R.), NSF (M.M.E.; B. Schatz, UIUC), Intramural Research Program NIH NLM (R.A.), USDA-NRI, California Beekeepers Assoc., Texas Beekeepers Assoc., T. W. Burleson and Son, Inc., TAMU, NIH NLM (J.G.R.), RSNZ Marsden Fund (P.K.D.), Danish Research Agency, Carlsberg Foundation, Novo Nordisk Foundation, and DFG. The authors thank the production staff at the HGSC.


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