The European honey bee is a model organism for studying social behaviors. Comprehensive analyses focusing on the differential expression profiles of genes between the brains of nurse bees and foragers, or in the mushroom bodies—the brain structure related to learning and memory, and multimodal sensory integration—has identified candidate genes related to honey bee behaviors. Despite accumulating knowledge on the expression profiles of genes related to honey bee behaviors, it remains unclear whether these genes actually regulate social behaviors in the honey bee, in part because of the scarcity of genetic manipulation methods available for application to the honey bee. In this review, we describe the genetic methods applied to studies of the honey bee, ranging from classical forward genetics to recently developed gene modification methods using transposon and CRISPR/Cas9. We then discuss future functional analyses using these genetic methods targeting genes identified by the preceding research. Because no particular genes or neurons unique to social insects have been found yet, further exploration of candidate genes/neurons correlated with sociality through comprehensive analyses of mushroom bodies in the aculeate species can provide intriguing targets for functional analyses, as well as insight into the molecular and neural bases underlying social behaviors.
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