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1.  Queen reproductive state modulates pheromone production and queen-worker interactions in honeybees 
Behavioral Ecology  2009;20(5):1007-1014.
The mandibular glands of queen honeybees produce a pheromone that modulates many aspects of worker honeybee physiology and behavior and is critical for colony social organization. The exact chemical blend produced by the queen differs between virgin and mated, laying queens. Here, we investigate the role of mating and reproductive state on queen pheromone production and worker responses. Virgin queens, naturally mated queens, and queens instrumentally inseminated with either semen or saline were collected 2 days after mating or insemination. Naturally mated queens had the most activated ovaries and the most distinct chemical profile in their mandibular glands. Instrumentally inseminated queens were intermediate between virgins and naturally mated queens for both ovary activation and chemical profiles. There were no significant differences between semen- and saline-inseminated queens. Workers were preferentially attracted to the mandibular gland extracts from queens with significantly more activated ovaries. These studies suggest that the queen pheromone blend is modulated by the reproductive status of the queens, and workers can detect these subtle differences and are more responsive to queens with higher reproductive potential. Furthermore, it appears as if insemination substance does not strongly affect physiological characteristics of honeybee queens 2 days after insemination, suggesting that the insemination process or volume is responsible for stimulating these early postmating changes in honeybee queens.
doi:10.1093/beheco/arp090
PMCID: PMC2744121  PMID: 22476212
behavior; caste; chemical communication; pheromone; reproduction; social insect
2.  Individual Variation in Pheromone Response Correlates with Reproductive Traits and Brain Gene Expression in Worker Honey Bees 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9116.
Background
Variation in individual behavior within social groups can affect the fitness of the group as well as the individual, and can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. However, the molecular factors associated with individual variation in social behavior remain relatively unexplored. We used honey bees (Apis mellifera) as a model to examine differences in socially-regulated behavior among individual workers, and used transcriptional profiling to determine if specific gene expression patterns are associated with these individual differences. In honey bees, the reproductive queen produces a pheromonal signal that regulates many aspects of worker behavior and physiology and maintains colony organization.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we demonstrate that there is substantial natural variation in individual worker attraction to queen pheromone (QMP). Furthermore, worker attraction is negatively correlated with ovariole number—a trait associated with reproductive potential in workers. We identified transcriptional differences in the adult brain associated with individual worker attraction to QMP, and identified hundreds of transcripts that are organized into statistically-correlated gene networks and associated with this response.
Conclusions/Significance
Our studies demonstrate that there is substantial variation in worker attraction to QMP among individuals, and that this variation is linked with specific differences in physiology and brain gene expression patterns. This variation in individual response thresholds may reveal underlying variation in queen-worker reproductive conflict, and may mediate colony function and productivity by creating variation in individual task performance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009116
PMCID: PMC2817734  PMID: 20161742
3.  Genomic analysis of post-mating changes in the honey bee queen (Apis mellifera) 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:232.
Background
The molecular mechanisms underlying the post-mating behavioral and physiological transitions undergone by females have not been explored in great detail. Honey bees represent an excellent model system in which to address these questions because they exhibit a range of "mating states," with two extremes (virgins and egg-laying, mated queens) that differ dramatically in their behavior, pheromone profiles, and physiology. We used an incompletely-mated mating-state to understand the molecular processes that underlie the transition from a virgin to a mated, egg-laying queen. We used same-aged virgins, queens that mated once but did not initiate egg-laying, and queens that mated once and initiated egg-laying.
Results
Differences in the behavior and physiology among groups correlated with the underlying variance observed in the top 50 predictive genes in the brains and the ovaries. These changes were correlated with either a behaviorally-associated pattern or a physiologically-associated pattern. Overall, these results suggest that the brains and the ovaries of queens are uncoupled or follow different timescales; the initiation of mating triggers immediate changes in the ovaries, while changes in the brain may require additional stimuli or take a longer time to complete. Comparison of our results to previous studies of post-mating changes in Drosophila melanogaster identified common biological processes affected by mating, including stress response and alternative-splicing pathways. Comparison with microarray data sets related to worker behavior revealed no obvious correlation between genes regulated by mating and genes regulated by behavior/physiology in workers.
Conclusion
Studying the underlying molecular mechanisms of post-mating changes in honey bee queens will not only give us insight into how molecular mechanisms regulate physiological and behavioral changes, but they may also lead to important insights into the evolution of social behavior. Post-mating changes in gene regulation in the brains and ovaries of honey bee queens appear to be triggered by different stimuli and may occur on different timescales, potentially allowing changes in the brains and the ovaries to be uncoupled.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-232
PMCID: PMC2413142  PMID: 18489784
4.  The Worker Honeybee Fat Body Proteome Is Extensively Remodeled Preceding a Major Life-History Transition 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24794.
Honeybee workers are essentially sterile female helpers that make up the majority of individuals in a colony. Workers display a marked change in physiology when they transition from in-nest tasks to foraging. Recent technological advances have made it possible to unravel the metabolic modifications associated with this transition. Previous studies have revealed extensive remodeling of brain, thorax, and hypopharyngeal gland biochemistry. However, data on changes in the abdomen is scarce. To narrow this gap we investigated the proteomic composition of abdominal tissue in the days typically preceding the onset of foraging in honeybee workers.
In order to get a broader representation of possible protein dynamics, we used workers of two genotypes with differences in the age at which they initiate foraging. This approach was combined with RNA interference-mediated downregulation of an insulin/insulin-like signaling component that is central to foraging behavior, the insulin receptor substrate (irs), and with measurements of glucose and lipid levels.
Our data provide new insight into the molecular underpinnings of phenotypic plasticity in the honeybee, invoke parallels with vertebrate metabolism, and support an integrated and irs-dependent association of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism with the transition from in-nest tasks to foraging.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024794
PMCID: PMC3182174  PMID: 21969861

Results 1-4 (4)