• caste development;
  • oogenesis;
  • meiosis;
  • UCR motifs;
  • AlignACE


The honey bee queen and worker castes are a model system for developmental plasticity. We used established expressed sequence tag information for a Gene Ontology based annotation of genes that are differentially expressed during caste development. Metabolic regulation emerged as a major theme, with a caste-specific difference in the expression of oxidoreductases vs. hydrolases. Motif searches in upstream regions revealed group-specific motifs, providing an entry point to cis-regulatory network studies on caste genes. For genes putatively involved in reproduction, meiosis-associated factors came out as highly conserved, whereas some determinants of embryonic axes either do not have clear orthologs (bag of marbles, gurken, torso), or appear to be lacking (trunk) in the bee genome. Our results are the outcome of a first genome-based initiative to provide an annotated framework for trends in gene regulation during female caste differentiation (representing developmental plasticity) and reproduction.