Hormone response to bidirectional selection on social behavior

Gro Amdam, Robert Page, M. Kim Fondrk, Colin S. Brent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Behavior is a quantitative trait determined by multiple genes. Some of these genes may have effects from early development and onward by influencing hormonal systems that are active during different life-stages leading to complex associations, or suites, of traits. Honey bees (Apis mellifera) have been used extensively in experiments on the genetic and hormonal control of complex social behavior, but the relationships between their early developmental processes and adult behavioral variation are not well understood. Bidirectional selective breeding on social food-storage behavior produced two honey bee strains, each with several sublines, that differ in an associated suite of anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits found in unselected wild type bees. Using these genotypes, we document strain-specific changes during larval, pupal, and early adult life-stages for the central insect hormones juvenile hormone (JH) and ecdysteroids. Strain differences correlate with variation in female reproductive anatomy (ovary size), which can be influenced by JH during development, and with secretion rates of ecdysteroid from the ovaries of adults. Ovary size was previously assigned to the suite of traits of honey bee food-storage behavior. Our findings support that bidirectional selection on honey bee social behavior acted on pleiotropic gene networks. These networks may bias a bee's adult phenotype by endocrine effects on early developmental processes that regulate variation in reproductive traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-436
Number of pages9
JournalEvolution and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Developmental Biology


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