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Reversible switching between epigenetic states in honeybee behavioral subcastes

In honeybee societies, distinct caste phenotypes are created from the same genotype, suggesting a role for epigenetics in deriving these behaviorally different phenotypes. The authors found no differences in DNA methylation between irreversible worker and queen castes, but substantial differences between nurses and forager subcastes. Reverting foragers back to nurses reestablished methylation levels for a majority of genes and provides the first evidence in any organism of reversible epigenetic changes associated with behavior.

Brian R Herb & Andrew P Feinberg et al.
Nature Neuroscience 15, 1371–1373 (2012) doi:10.1038/nn.3218
Published online 16 September 2012

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