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Adaptative behaviour of stingless bees to adverse ambiental conditions: a transcriptomic prospection

Grant number: 22/13294-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2023
Effective date (End): August 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Animal Genetics
Principal Investigator:Maria Cristina Arias
Grantee:Larissa Nunes Do Prado
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponini) are among the most common and abundant pollinators in tropical regions, especially in the neotropics. This group has a wide taxonomic diversity, with more than 500 described species, 243 of which are found in Brazil. Some species have adaptations that allow them to survive adverse environmental conditions. Species from the subtropical region of Brazil, such as Plebeia remota and Melipona marginata, can tolerate low temperatures during the winter, while species from the brazilian semiarid region, such as Melipona subnitida, can tolerate hot dry season. The species P. remota and M. marginata exhibit the adaptive behavior known as reproductive diapause, which is characterized as a programmed arrest in the provisioning and oviposition process. The species M. subnitida exhibit the adaptive strategy known as aestivation (quiescence), which is characterized in this species by a reduction in the construction of brood cells and a decrease in foraging during the hot and dry months. Although progress has been made in describing these behaviors, a lack on the molecular basis underlying diapause and aestivation in insects in general still persists. Therefore, the objective of this work is to prospect genes differentially expressed during the reproductive diapause in P. remota and M. marginata and estivation in M. subnitida. Furthermore, a global comparison of the transcripts will be performed to verify if there is a common set of genes that support reproductive diapause in the species P. remota and M. marginata and, on the other hand, if there is a set of genes that support reproductive diapause in M. marginata and aestivation in M. subnitida, two phylogenetically close species whose arrested behavior is induced by very different environmental conditions. (AU)

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