Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 30 June 2004
Vol. 2004, Issue 26, p. pe28
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2004.26.pe28]


Epigenetic Regulation of Aging in Honeybee Workers

Stig W. Omholt, and Gro V. Amdam

Stig W. Omholt and Gro V. Amdam are in the Centre for Integrative Genetics and the Department of Animal Science, Agricultural University of Norway, 1432 Aas, Norway. Gro V. Amdam is also at the University of California, Department of Entomology, Davis, CA 95616, USA. E-mail: stig.omholt{at} (S.W.O.)

Key Words: evolution • honeybee • vitellogenin • hormones • epigenetic • worker bee

Abstract: Aging and longevity are complex life history traits that are influenced by both genes and environment and exhibit significant phenotypic plasticity in a broad range of organisms. A striking example of this plasticity is seen in social insects, such as ants and bees, where different castes can have very different life spans. In particular, the honeybee worker offers an intriguing example of environmental control on aging rate, because workers are conditionally sterile and display very different aging patterns depending on which temporal caste they belong to (hive bee, forager, or a long-lived caste capable of surviving for several months on honey alone). The ubiquitous yolk protein vitellogenin appears to play a key role in the regulatory circuitry that controls this variation. Here we outline the current understanding of the relation between vitellogenin and somatic maintenance in honeybee workers, and how this relation can be understood in a life history context.

Citation: S. W. Omholt, G. V. Amdam, Epigenetic Regulation of Aging in Honeybee Workers. Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2004 (26), pe28 (2004).

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