Vitellogenin expression corresponds with reproductive status and caste in a primitively eusocial bee, Lasioglossum laevissimum
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AbstractVitellogenin (vg) expression is consistently associated with variation in insect phenotypes, particularly egg-laying. Primitively eusocial species, such as eusocial sweat bees, have behaviourally totipotent castes, in which each female is capable of high levels of ovarian development. Few studies have investigated vg expression patterns in primitively eusocial insects, and only one study has focused on a primitively eusocial bee. Here we use a primitively eusocial sweat bee, Lasioglossum laevissimum, and Real Time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) to investigate the relationship between vg expression, castes, and variation in phenotypes associated with castes differences. These assays showed that females with high ovarian development had the highest levels of vg expression, and that vg expression levels reflected the reproductive status of females first and caste second. This is in contrast to vg expression patterns observed in advanced eusocial queens and workers, which differ in vg expression based on caste and have caste-specific vg expression patterns. Furthermore, future queens (gynes) do not have ovarian development and had similar vg expression levels to early spring foundresses, which do have ovarian development, supporting Vg’s function as a transporter of lipids and amino acids before diapause.
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