Benelux Congress of Zoology edition:15 location:Liege, Belgium date:30 - 31 october
An important feature of social insects is the division of labor. However the complete genetic base of these behaviors isn’t cleared out yet. Because it is such a complex mechanism, it presumably has a multigenic origin. One of the genes found to be involved in the division of labor, is the foraging (for) gene. This gene was first discovered in Drosophila melanogaster. In the honey bee Apis mellifera the foraging gene (amfor) is a single copy gene without allelic variants. Foraging workers have a higher expression than the in hive working nurses. In the social wasp Vespula vulgaris though, the opposite is found with a higher expression in nurses.
Another gene involved in the division of labor in A. mellifera is malvolio. Also this gene was first discovered in D. melanogaster where a mutation in the gene caused a reduced responsiveness to sucrose. MVL probably functions as a Mn2+/Fe2+ transporter. Because manganese affects sucrose responsiveness in D. melanogaster, and sucrose responsiveness is related to division of labor in honey bee colonies, they studied mvl in A. mellifera. The levels of mvl mRNA in the brain and manganese in the head seamed to be higher in pollen foragers compared with nurses, with nectar foragers intermediate. So mvl is involved in the honey bee division of labor. Similar to the for gene we wanted to test the V. vulgaris expression pattern of mvl and compare it with the honey bee. Apparently there isn’t a specific expression pattern of malvolio in the wasp.