• Guo X, Su S, Skogerboe G, Dai S, Li W, Li Z, Liu F, Ni R, Guo Y, Chen S. (2013) Recipe for a Busy Bee: MicroRNAs in Honey Bee Caste Determination. PLoS ONE 8(12),

Social caste determination in the honey bee is assumed to be determined by the dietary status of the young larvae and translated into physiological and epigenetic changes through nutrient-sensing pathways. We have employed Illumina/Solexa sequencing to examine the small RNA content in the bee larval food, and show that worker jelly is enriched in miRNA complexity and abundance relative to royal jelly. The miRNA levels in worker jelly were 7–215 fold higher than in royal jelly, and both jellies showed dynamic changes in miRNA content during the 4th to 6th day of larval development. Adding specific miRNAs to royal jelly elicited significant changes in queen larval mRNA expression and morphological characters of the emerging adult queen bee. We propose that miRNAs in the nurse bee secretions constitute an additional element in the regulatory control of caste determination in the honey bee.

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