Hygienic behavior is the ability to remove dead and diseased brood from the comb early as to limit the detrimental impact of the parasite or pathogen. Minnesota (MN) Hygienic bees are generalists of hygienic behavior with the ability to remove several brood infected with several pathogens including the Varroa mite. This study explored the mechanisms of MN Hygienic behavior by comparing the transcriptome of MN Hygienic bee brains to non-hygienic bee brains via cDNA microarray. The results suggest that the brains of MN Hygienic bees may have a greater number of dendritic connections or are more sensitive to neurotransmitters. Quantitative trait loci studies of MN Hygienic bees indicated three regions on chromosomes two, five and thirteen which may be responsible for the behavior. Genes from these quantitative trait loci were isolated based on olfaction as MN Hygienic bees have been linked to greater ability to discriminate between olfactory cues. However, none of the olfactory related genes indicated the quantitative trait loci were found to be differentially expressed in MN Hygienic bee brains. These results bring new understanding of the role the brain plays in MN Hygienic behavior. Results provide insight on potential candidate genes, including XM_393199, XM_001120874, XM_392202 and XM_624940 to utilize for the breeding of bees hardy enough to handle a variety of invading parasites and pathogens.


Daniel Toma

Committee Member

Geoffrey Goellner

Committee Member

Marilyn Hart

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences


Science, Engineering and Technology

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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