Honey bee behavioural evolution and itpr gene structure studies

Raffiudin, Rika (2002) Honey bee behavioural evolution and itpr gene structure studies. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Honey bees (genus Apis) display a rich variety of fascinating traits, which can reveal considerable information about their evolution by means of analysis and investigation. Therefore, my main objective is to investigate some of these traits in order to determine food recruitment and nesting behaviour ancestral traits in Apis.

In my first experiment, I focused on foraging behaviour performed by the forager honey bee. Its ability to conduct food recruitment through elegant dance behaviour is facilitated by memory formation in the brain. In the first experimental study described in Chapter 2, I conducted an itpr gene characterisation, a highly expressed gene present in honey bee brain (Kamikouchi et al. 1998). A partial sequence of the A. mellifera itpr gene was obtained which comprised of 2, 091 bp and showed 62%, 60%, 33%, 56%, and 56% similarities respectively to those in Panulurius argus (lobster), Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Xenopus laevis, and Mus musculus itpr-1. A phylogenetic analysis using itpr demonstrated that D. melanogaster itpr is closest to that of A. mellifera itpr. It has two introns showing the same positions as those of D. melanogaster itpr introns (Sinha and Hasan 1999) and there are four Apis itpr introns which appear absent in D. melanogaster. In my research, I investigated several conserved putative sites in A. mellifera IP3R protein namely protein kinase A (PKA) and protein kinase C (PKC) phosphorylation sites. These particular phosphorylation sites are considered to be important in honey bee memory formation (Menzel 2001).

Certain parts of itpr characterised in Chapter 2 were used as molecular markers for honey bee molecular phylogenetic reconstruction, concatenated with COII and lsRNA genes.

In further analysis based on the more complex model of DNA evolution, another hypothesis of Apis evolution was revealed. According to this model, the monophyletic Apis genus is split into two lines; those are the A. mellifera group line and the A. dorsata and A. florea groups line. Another outcome based on COII molecular phylogenetics combined with previous data, indicated the ambiguity detected in A. koschevnikovi by Willis et al. (1992) resulted from a possible error.

A. florea and A. andreniformis were confirmed as basal species in Apis phylogeny followed by the more derived species: A. dorsata, A. laboriosa, A. d. binghamii, A. mellifera, A. koschevnikovi, A. cerana, A. nuluensis, and A. nigrocincta. My findings suggest that A. nuluensis and A. nigrocincta are the most derived species and that they have recently speciated from A. cerana. By mapping dance behaviour characteristics onto the weighted Maximum Likelihood (ML) consensus tree, an interesting result was produced. It was found that unordered trait analysis did not answer the question whether horizontal dancing or vertical dancing was the ancestral trait because species with vertical dance behaviour are monophyletic and so are those with horizontal dance behaviour. However, given that horizontal dancing behaviour is less complex, an ordered dance character state seems justified. Based on these considerations, horizontal dance behaviour seems most likely to be ancestral. Another possibility of dance behaviour evolution hypothesis revealed by applying another DNA evolution model in ML analysis, mentioned that the vertical dancer honey bees (A. mellifera and A. dorsata group) are not monophyletic; they are clustered in different clade. The latter are in the same clade with the other horizontal dancers, A. florea group. Hence, it turns another possibility that vertical dance could be the ancestral to that of horizontal dance.

Inferring honey bee nest behaviour by mapping onto the molecular phylogenetics tree led me to the conclusion that there were two alternative evolutionary histories accounting well for this behaviour. One scenario has the ancestral state for Apis being open nesting with cavity nesting being a derived state. In the other, equally parsimonious scenario, cavity nesting in Apis is ancestral and apparent derived directly from cavity nesting in the Bombini and Meliponini, and open-nesting has been evolved twice (or once) in the A. florea and A. dorsata groups.

Only open nesters that construct platform at the top of their nests perform horizontal dancing. Other open nesters such as the A. dorsata group do not construct such platform and so it is possible that their dance behaviour has evolved into a vertical dance. Similar features namely no platform and vertical dance behaviour exists in the A. mellifera group. Hence, there is an adaptation of dance behaviour to the nest structure, which shows a correlation between these two behavioural character traits.

Item ID: 1249
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: honeybees, genetics, behaviour, behavior, phylogeny, foraging behaviour, dance behaviour, nest building, iptr genes, food
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2006
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060412 Quantitative Genetics (incl Disease and Trait Mapping Genetics) @ 33%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 34%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis @ 33%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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