Somatic Maintenance Resources in the Honeybee Worker Fat Body Are Distributed to Withstand the Most Life-Threatening Challenges at Each Life Stage
In a global transcriptome analysis of three natural and three manipulated honeybee worker phenotypes at different ages, we have investigated the distribution of investment in somatic maintenance of the fat body. Gene expression is modulated so that the bees are able to resist the most life-threatening challenges at the actual life stage. Different modes of maintenance and repair are regulated, apparently to meet the environmental challenges most detrimental to survival and reproductive potential for the hive. We observed a broad down-regulation of genomic and cellular maintenance in the short-lived foragers and nurse bees compared to the long-lived winter bees. Our results show that survival and reproduction of the entire hive is given priority over the individual bees, hence supporting the idea of the honeybee society as a superorganism.