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Insect Mol Biol. 2011 Jun;20(3):399-408. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2583.2011.01074.x. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Social immunity in honeybees (Apis mellifera): transcriptome analysis of varroa-hygienic behaviour.

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  • 1INRA, UMR 406 Abeilles et Environnement, Site Agroparc, Avignon cedex 9, France.


Honeybees have evolved a social immunity consisting of the cooperation of individuals to decrease disease in the hive. We identified a set of genes involved in this social immunity by analysing the brain transcriptome of highly varroa-hygienic bees, who efficiently detect and remove brood infected with the Varroa destructor mite. The function of these candidate genes does not seem to support a higher olfactory sensitivity in hygienic bees, as previously hypothesized. However, comparing their genomic profile with those from other behaviours suggests a link with brood care and the highly varroa-hygienic Africanized honeybees. These results represent a first step toward the identification of genes involved in social immunity and thus provide first insights into the evolution of social immunity.

© 2011 The Authors. Insect Molecular Biology © 2011 The Royal Entomological Society.

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