Improving stress resistance in honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers through social manipulation
Anissa Cherisse Goss, Anissa Cherisse Goss
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA; University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA
General life history theory suggests a trade-off between somatic maintenance and reproduction. However, in the honey bee and other social insect’s reproduction increases lifespan. The mechanisms for this positive relation between antagonistic demands is unclear but may be related to vitellogenin (Vg), a reproductive protein that has adopted other important survival functions, such as oxidative stress resistance and immunity. To study the role of Vg in survival functions, the susceptibility of reproductive and non-reproductive honey bee workers to Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) and pesticide-related oxidative stress was compared. Survival measures were complemented with an assessment of gene expression patterns that indicated not only the predicted changes in Vg titers but also correlated alterations in other functional domains. These results will be discussed in the context of the relevance of non-reproductive functions of Vg in worker bee defense against stressors, demonstrating that social manipulations can alter worker physiology and improve resistance to viral and pesticide stressors of queenless workers.