RNA editing is abundant and correlates with task performance in a social bumblebee

Hagit T. Porath, Esther Hazan, Hagai Shpigler, Mira Cohen, Mark Band, Yehuda Ben-Shahar, Erez Y. Levanon, Eli Eisenberg, Guy Bloch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Colonies of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris are characterized by wide phenotypic variability among genetically similar full-sister workers, suggesting a major role for epigenetic processes. Here, we report a high level of ADAR-mediated RNA editing in the bumblebee, despite the lack of an ADAR1-homolog. We identify 1.15 million unique genomic sites, and 164 recoding sites residing in 100 protein coding genes, including ion channels, transporters, and receptors predicted to affect brain function and behavior. Some edited sites are similarly edited in other insects, cephalopods and even mammals. The global editing level of protein coding and non-coding transcripts weakly correlates with task performance (brood care vs. foraging), but not affected by dominance rank or juvenile hormone known to influence physiology and behavior. Taken together, our findings show that brain editing levels are high in naturally behaving bees, and may be regulated by relatively short-term effects associated with brood care or foraging activities.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1605
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

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© 2019, The Author(s).


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