Pleiotropy, epistasis and new QTL: The genetic architecture of honey bee foraging behavior

O. Rüppell, T. Pankiw, Robert Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The regulation of division of labor in social insects, particularly in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.), has received considerable attention from a number of biological subdisciplines, including quantitative and behavioral genetics, because of the high complexity of the behavioral traits involved. The foraging choices of honey bee workers can be accurately quantified, and previous studies have made the foraging behavior of honey bees one of the best studied naturally occurring behavioral phenotypes. Three quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been identified that influence a set of foraging variables, including the concentration of nectar collected and the amount of pollen and nectar brought back to the hive. This study extends previous genetic investigations and represents the most comprehensive investigation of the genetic architecture of these foraging variables. We examined the effects of markers for the three established QTL and for one further candidate gene (Amfor), in two reciprocal backcross populations. These populations were also used to carry out two new QTL mapping studies, with over 400 Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP®) markers in each. We detected a variety of effects of the genetic markers for the established QTL and the candidate gene, which were mostly epistatic in nature. A few new QTL could be detected with a variety of mapping techniques. Our results add complexity to the genetic architecture of the foraging behavior of the honey bee. Specifically, we support the hypotheses that pln1, pln2, pln3, and Amfor are involved in the regulation of foraging behavior in the honey bee and add some new factors that deserve further study in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-491
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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