My long-term goal is to understand causes and consequences of social evolution at the genome level, using honeybees as scientific model. The most important genomic feature discovered in honeybees so far is their exceptionally high genomic recombination rate. The strong up regulation of the genomic recombination rate in honeybees has not been studied in detail, although the investigation of its patterns and mechanisms may yield relevant insights for our understanding of DNA recombination with implications for DNA repair, genomic stability, cancer biology, genetic variation of pathogens, and thus human health. Based on the previous finding that honeybees exhibit the highest genomic recombination rate of all metazoans and the large offspring number of individual honeybee queens, I propose to study the patterns of recombination in the honeybee genome in detail. The project will test the prediction that the extraordinarily high recombination rate in honeybees is associated with a high variability in recombination due to the recently proposed evolutionary dynamics of the regulation of meiotic recombination. The prediction will be tested by addressing the following three specific aims: 1. Construction of the first high-density linkage map for A. mellifera with cost-effective RAD-tag markers to study the fine-scale patterns of recombination and characterize recombinational hotspots. 2. Characterization of intra-specific variation in recombination rate in A. mellifera in specific genome regions by genotyping selected linked markers in offspring of 90 different queens from different populations. 3. Study of the intra-individual variation of recombination rates in selected genome regions by comparing recombination rates between linked markers in offspring of young and old queens and from queens before and after oxidative stress exposure. Motivated by recent methodological advances and interest in the regulation of genomic recombination, this proposal is timely and innovative. It addresses a fundamental biological process with multiple connections to human health. It will provide novel insights that illuminate the particular study system but also contribte to our general understanding of meiotic recombination and its variability. It will produce data to generate new hypotheses as basis for future research. Furthermore, funding for this research will strengthen the research environment in the life sciences at UNCG, particularly with respect to the newly established PhD program in our department. Finally, it would allow me to expand my dedication to mentoring student research and fostering the next generation of life scientists.
In addition to its importance as pollinator, the honeybee can also inform us about DNA recombination, a process that is related to multiple genetic disorders and cancer. This research program will study the excessive recombination rate of honeybees to learn how comparable it is to human recombination. It will also study how recombination is affected by aging and stress to draw general conclusion that may be applicable to understand genome integrity in humans. Furthermore, I will train and mentor students in biomedical research to promote the next generation of life scientists.
|Rueppell, Olav (2014) The Architecture of the Pollen Hoarding Syndrome in Honey Bees: Implications for Understanding Social Evolution, Behavioral Syndromes, and Selective Breeding. Apidologie 45:364-374|