Tyramine and its receptor TYR1 linked behavior QTL to reproductive physiology in honey bee workers (Apis mellifera)

Ying Wang, Gro V. Amdam, Bryan C. Daniels, Robert E. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Honey bees (Apis mellifera) provide an excellent model for studying how complex social behavior evolves and is regulated. Social behavioral traits such as the division of labor have been mapped to specific genomic regions in quantitative trait locus (QTL) studies. However, relating genomic mapping to gene function and regulatory mechanism remains a big challenge for geneticists. In honey bee workers, division of labor is known to be regulated by reproductive physiology, but the genetic basis of this regulation remains unknown. In this case, QTL studies have identified tyramine receptor 1 (TYR1) as a candidate gene in region pln2, which is associated with multiple worker social traits and reproductive anatomy. Tyramine (TA), a neurotransmitter, regulates physiology and behavior in diverse insect species including honey bees. Here, we examine directly the effects of TYR1 and TA on worker reproductive physiology, including ovariole number, ovary function and the production of vitellogenin (VG, an egg yolk precursor). First, we used a pharmacology approach to demonstrate that TA affects ovariole number during worker larval development and increases ovary maturation during the adult stage. Second, we used a gene knockdown approach to show that TYR1 regulates vg transcription in adult workers. Finally, we estimated correlations in gene expression and propose that TYR1 may regulate vg transcription by coordinating hormonal and nutritional signals. Taken together, our results suggest TYR1 and TA play important roles in regulating worker reproductive physiology, which in turn regulates social behavior. Our study exemplifies a successful forward-genetic strategy going from QTL mapping to gene function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104093
JournalJournal of insect physiology
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Division of labor
  • Honey bee worker
  • Ovarioles
  • Tyramine
  • Tyramine receptor 1
  • Vitellogenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Tyramine and its receptor TYR1 linked behavior QTL to reproductive physiology in honey bee workers (Apis mellifera)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this