Production of Knockout Mutants by CRISPR/Cas9 in the European Honeybee, Apis mellifera L.

Hiroki Kohno, Shota Suenami, Hideaki Takeuchi, Tetsuhiko Sasaki, Takeo Kubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


The European honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) is used as a model organism in studies of the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying social behaviors and/or advanced brain functions. The entire honeybee genome has been sequenced, which has further advanced molecular biologic studies of the honeybee. Functions of genes of interest, however, remain largely to be elucidated in the honeybee due to the lack of effective reverse genetic methods. Moreover, genetically modified honeybees must be maintained under restricted laboratory conditions due to legal restrictions, further complicating the application of reverse genetics to this species. Here we applied CRISPR/Cas9 to the honeybee to develop an effective reverse genetic method. We targeted major royal jelly protein 1 (mrjp1) for genome editing, because this gene is predominantly expressed in adult workers and its mutation is not expected to affect normal development. By injecting sgRNA and Cas9 mRNA into 57 fertilized embryos collected within 3 h after oviposition, we successfully created six queens, one of which produced genome-edited male offspring. Of the 161 males produced, genotyping demonstrated that the genome was edited in 20 males. All of the processes necessary for producing these genome-edited queens and males were performed in the laboratory. Therefore, we developed essential techniques to create knockout honeybees by CRISPR/Cas9. Our findings also suggested that mrjp1 is dispensable for normal male development, at least till the pupal stage. This new technology could pave the way for future functional analyses of candidate genes involved in honeybee social behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-512
Number of pages8
JournalZoological science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • apiology
  • genome editing
  • honeybee
  • knockout
  • mrjp1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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