Article: article from journal or magazin.
A novel screen for genes associated with pheromone-induced sterility
For honey bee and other social insect colonies the 'queen substance' regulates colony reproduction rendering workers functionally sterile. The evolution of worker reproductive altruism is explained by inclusive fitness theory, but little is known of the genes involved or how they regulate the phenotypic expression of altruism. We previously showed that application of honeybee queen pheromone to virgin fruit flies suppresses fecundity. Here we exploit this finding to identify genes associated with the perception of an ovary-inhibiting social pheromone. Mutational and RNAi approaches in Drosophila reveal that the olfactory co-factor Orco together with receptors Or49b, Or56a and Or98a are potentially involved in the perception of queen pheromone and the suppression of fecundity. One of these, Or98a, is known to mediate female fly mating behaviour, and its predicted ligand is structurally similar to a methyl component of the queen pheromone. Our novel approach to finding genes associated with pheromone-induced sterility implies conserved reproductive regulation between social and pre-social orders, and further helps to identify candidate orthologues from the pheromone-responsive pathway that may regulate honeybee worker sterility.
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