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Transcriptome analysis of nutrition and age related patterns of gene expression in the fat body of preoverwintering bumble bee queens

posted on 2024-01-27, 05:08 authored by California State University, Fullerton
Many diapausing insects undergo a nutrient storage period prior to their entry into diapause. Bumble bee queens diapause as adults in the winter preceding their spring nest initiation period. Before diapause, they sequester glycogen and lipids, which they metabolize during the overwintering period. We used RNA sequencing to examine how age and nectar diet impact gene expression in the preoverwintering bumble bee queen fat body. We found that diet on its own, and in combination with age, impacts the expression of genes involved in detoxification. Age was also a strong driver of gene expression, especially at earlier ages. In addition to these molecular correlates of diet and age, we also found a putative molecular signature of diapause entry or preparation in adult queens in the oldest age group fed the most sucrose rich diet, based on comparisons between our data set and another transcriptome data set from bumble bee queens. This transcriptomic pattern suggests that preparation for diapause might be in part mediated by nutritional state in bumble bee queens. Collectively, these findings show that there are molecular processes in the fat body that are responsive to sucrose levels in the diet and/or associated with age related maturational changes. A better understanding of these processes may shed light on important aspects of bumble bee biology, such as queen responses to nutritional and other forms of stress, and the factors that regulate their entrance into diapause.


U.S. Department of Agriculture, CA-R-ENT-5122-H


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  • Non-geospatial

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  • biota

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sequence analysis

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  • Public

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