Queens and workers are very distinct phenotypes that develop from the same genome. Larvae from worker cells up to 3.5 d old can be transferred to larger queen cells and will subsequently be reared as queens and develop into functional queens. This has become a very popular queen rearing practice in contemporary apiculture. Here we used RNA-Seq to study the consequences of rearing queens from transplanted worker larvae on the transcriptome of the adult queens. We found that queens reared from transferred older larvae developed slower, weighted less, and had fewer ovarioles than queens reared from transferred eggs, indicating queens were cryptically intercaste. RNA-Seq analysis revealed differentially expressed genes between queens reared from transferred larvae compared with queens reared from transferred eggs: the older the larvae transferred, the greater the number of differentially expressed genes. Many of the differentially expressed genes had functions related to reproduction, longevity, immunity, or metabolism, suggesting that the health and long-term viability of queens was compromised. Our finds verify the previous studies that adult queens reared from older transferred larvae were of lower quality than queens reared from transferred eggs or younger larvae.
- Apis mellifera
- caste differentiation