Identification of genes related to high royal jelly production in the honey bee (Apis mellifera) using microarray analysis
Abstract China is the largest royal jelly producer and exporter in the world, and high royal jelly-yielding strains have been bred in the country for approximately three decades. However, information on the molecular mechanism underlying high royal jelly production is scarce. Here, a cDNA microarray was used to screen and identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) to obtain an overview on the changes in gene expression levels between high and low royal jelly producing bees. We developed a honey bee gene chip that covered 11,689 genes, and this chip was hybridised with cDNA generated from RNA isolated from heads of nursing bees. A total of 369 DEGs were identified between high and low royal jelly producing bees. Amongst these DEGs, 201 (54.47%) genes were up-regulated, whereas 168 (45.53%) were down-regulated in high royal jelly-yielding bees. Gene ontology (GO) analyses showed that they are mainly involved in four key biological processes, and pathway analyses revealed that they belong to a total of 46 biological pathways. These results provide a genetic basis for further studies on the molecular mechanisms involved in high royal jelly production.