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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Zoe O'Neill

PhD student



Project title: Epigenetic determination of phenotypic plasticity in the honey bee

Summary: The capacity of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) to produce three phenotypically distinct organisms (two female castes; queens and sterile workers, and a haploid male drone) from one genotype represents one of the most remarkable examples of developmental plasticity in any phylum. The key feature in the establishment of all three different post-embryonic developmental trajectories and subsequent maintenance during adulthood, is nutrition. The primary research goals of my PhD, are to understand the molecular pathways that specify these distinct developmental outcomes and to determine the role of dietary components in driving these polyphenisms. Combining the unique properties of the honey bee model with the latest techniques in epigenomics and proteomics, we aim to dissect the contribution of specific epigenetic mechanisms in establishing alternate developmental outcomes in the honey bee via alteration of chromatin structure.



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