Transcriptome dynamics during metamorphosis of imaginal discs into wings and thoracic dorsum in Apis mellifera castes


Background: Much of the complex anatomy of a holometabolous insect is built from disc-shaped epithelial structures found inside the larva, i.e., the imaginal discs, which undergo a rapid differentiation during metamorphosis. Imaginal discs-derived structures, like wings, are built through the action of genes under precise regulation. Results: We analyzed 30 honeybee transcriptomes in the search for the gene expression needed for wings and thoracic dorsum construction from the larval wing discs primordia. Analyses were carried out before, during, and after the metamorphic molt and using worker and queen castes. Our RNA-seq libraries revealed 13,202 genes, representing 86.2% of the honeybee annotated genes. Gene Ontology analysis revealed functional terms that were caste-specific or shared by workers and queens. Genes expressed in wing discs and descendant structures showed differential expression profiles dynamics in premetamorphic, metamorphic and postmetamorphic developmental phases, and also between castes. At the metamorphic molt, when ecdysteroids peak, the wing buds of workers showed maximal gene upregulation comparatively to queens, thus underscoring differences in gene expression between castes at the height of the larval-pupal transition. Analysis of small RNA libraries of wing buds allowed us to build miRNA-mRNA interaction networks to predict the regulation of genes expressed during wing discs development. Conclusion: Together, these data reveal gene expression dynamics leading to wings and thoracic dorsum formation from the wing discs, besides highlighting caste-specific differences during wing discs metamorphosis.



Apis mellifera, Caste differential expression, Honeybee, Metamorphosis, miRNA, RNA-seq, Wing imaginal discs

Como citar

BMC Genomics, v. 22, n. 1, 2021.