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Biochemistry seminar: Georgia Cullen, PhD Candidate

Undergraduate students, Postgraduate students, Staff
Event type
School of Biomedical Sciences

The Western honeybee (Apis mellifera)’s pollination and products have been valued at US$34 billion per year in 2012. Despite the importance of the honeybee to agriculture and pollination, knowledge of their oogenesis and reproductive development is poor.

To understand how the honeybee ovary develops and fulfils the demanding reproductive requirements in adult queens, we have investigated their ovary development from larval instar two through pupal development to emergence. Our focus is on identifying the germline. We studied somatic and germline cells, how ovarioles develop over time, when and where fusomes and ring canals appear, and discovered minimal apoptosis throughout, using immunohistochemistry and in situ Hybridisation 3.0 (Hybridisation-Chain Reaction) experiments.

We have discovered evidence supporting the origin of oogenesis occurring in a predetermined 8-cell cluster, to the contrary of the expected origin occurring in one to three germ stem cells – as seen in Drosophila. Our findings suggest ways in which reproduction in queen bees can be better supported and explain how the honeybee can fulfil a more reproductively demanding niche than Drosophila.

This research will support declining honeybee populations, further our understanding of germline stem cell regulation, and highlights an understudied reproductive system among insects.



Department of Biochemistry


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