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Expression of genes involved in the social behaviour of bees with different levels of eusociality

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Natália de Souza Araujo
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Biociências (IBIOC/SB)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Maria Cristina Arias; Jonas Weissmann Gaiarsa; Margareth de Lara Capurro Guimaraes; Klaus Hartmann Hartfelder; Isabel Alves dos Santos
Advisor: Maria Cristina Arias; Tatiana Teixeira Torres

The social behaviour can be widely described as any intraspecific interaction in the animal life, including but not restricted to, female choice, species recognition, altruistic behaviour and the organization of animal society. Among the animal species most attuned to their social environment are the insects that, for example, in the Apini and Meliponini tribes, present a complex behaviour known as highly eusocial. Bees are an ideal group to study the evolution of the social behaviour because they have a great diversity of social life styles that evolved independently. The tribes Apini and Meliponini comprise only highly eusocial species whereas various levels of sociality can be detected in other tribes, being most bees indeed solitary. Although the evolution of eusociality has been the subject of many studies, the genetic changes involved in the process have not been completely understood. Results from studies conducted so far provide a starting point for the connection between specific genetic alterations and the evolution of eusocial behaviour. However fundamental questions about this process are still open. Recently, new sequencing technologies have allowed genetic studies of model and non-model organisms in a deep and non-directional way, which is promising for the study of complex characteristics. Herein, we present a broad analysis of the molecular bases of different behavioural characteristics related to the evolution of sociality in bees. To that end, the global expression pattern of genes involved in different behavioural features, in a number of bee species and distinct developmental stages, was comparatively studied using multiple approaches. Through these approaches different results were obtained. In Chapter 1, we used contaminant transcripts from the solitary bee Tetrapedia diversipes to identify the plants visited by this bee, during its two reproductive generations. These contaminant transcripts revealed that the richness of plant species visited during the first reproductive generation was considerably greater than during the second generation. Which is probably related to the floral boom occurring in spring during the first reproductive period. In Chapter 2, data suggests that the expression pattern in foundresses affect larval development in T. diversipes. The bivoltinism presented by this species, with diapause in one generation, might be an important feature for the evolution of sociality. Our results suggest that mitochondrial genes and lncRNAs are involved in this reproductive pattern. Results described in Chapter 3 indicate that specialization in worker subcastes occurred posteriorly in distinct bee lineages, driven by specific genes. However, these genes affected common biological processes in the different species. In Chapter 4 is described a promising analyses method to identify, comparatively, genes involved in bee social behaviour. Using this approach, we identified 787 behavioural genes that might be involved in social behaviour of different species. The methylation pattern of these genes suggests that the DNA context in which methylation marks occur, might be especially relevant to bee sociality. Results obtained here presents new methodological and evolutionary approaches to the study of social behaviour in bees (AU)

FAPESP's process: 12/18531-0 - Expression of Genes Involved in Social Behavior in Bees with Different Levels of Eusociality
Grantee:Natália de Souza Araujo
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate