Image_4_The Beneficial Effect of Pollen on Varroa Infested Bees Depends on Its Influence on Behavioral Maturation Genes.JPEG (163.92 kB)
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posted on 27.04.2022, 13:41 authored by Davide Frizzera, Allyson M. Ray, Elisa Seffin, Virginia Zanni, Desiderato Annoscia, Christina M. Grozinger, Francesco Nazzi

Honey bees collect nectar and pollen to fulfill their nutritional demands. In particular, pollen can influence longevity, the development of hypopharyngeal glands, and immune-competence of bees. Pollen can also mitigate the deleterious effects caused by the parasitic mite Varroa destructor and related deformed wing virus (DWV) infections. It has been shown that V. destructor accelerates the physiological and behavioral maturation of honey bees by influencing the interaction between two core physiological factors, Vitellogenin and juvenile hormone. In this study, we test the hypothesis that the beneficial effects of pollen on Varroa-infested bees are related to the hormonal control underpinning behavioral maturation. By analyzing the expression of genes associated to behavioral maturation in pollen-fed mite-infested bees, we show that treatment with pollen increases the lifespan of mite-infested bees by reversing the faster maturation induced by the parasite at the gene expression level. As expected, from the different immune-competence of nurse and forager bees, the lifespan extension triggered by pollen is also correlated with a positive influence of antimicrobial peptide gene expression and DWV load, further reinforcing the beneficial effect of pollen. This study lay the groundwork for future analyses of the underlying evolutionary processes and applications to improve bee health.

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