Upregulation of antioxidant genes in the spermathecae of honey bee (Apis mellifera) queens after mating
During storage, the viability of sperm in a honey bee (Apis mellifera) queen’s spermatheca can be decreased by reactive oxygen species. We hypothesized that the expression of antioxidant genes would increase in queen spermathecae after mating. We measured queen morphometric characteristics and expression levels of seven antioxidant-encoding genes in virgin and mated queen spermathecae. We identified a 12% increase in body weight and a fourfold increase in ovary weight in mated queens. There was a twofold higher expression of catalase, thioredoxin 2, and thioredoxin reductase 1 in the spermathecae of mated vs. virgin queens. Expression of the other antioxidant genes (glutathione S-transferase D1, superoxide dismutase 1, vitellogenin, and glyoxalase domain-containing 4-like (GLOD4L) in spermathecae was not different between mated and virgin queens. In drone semen, expression of antioxidant genes was overall low compared to queens except for GLOD4L, which was equivalent to that in queen spermathecae. Increased expression of antioxidant genes may assist in maintaining sperm viability inside the spermathecae of mated queens.
Keywordsantioxidative enzyme genes Apis mellifera drone honey bee queen spermatheca sperm
We would like to thank Tammy Olivarez for donating the honey bee queens used in our study. We thank ET Ash and Adrian Fisher II for their assistance in collecting drone samples at the Janice and John G. Thomas Honey Bee Facility at Texas A&M University.
ANG, NI and JR conceived this research, designed experiments and interpreted the data; ANG performed experiments; ANG, NI and JR performed the analysis, wrote the paper and participated in the revisions of it. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no potential conflict of interest in relation to the study in this paper.
- Caron, D.M., Connor, L.J. (2013) Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping, Revised Edition. Wicwas Press, Kalamazoo, MIGoogle Scholar
- Koeniger, G. (1986) Reproduction and mating behavior, in: Rinderer T.E. (Ed.), Bee Breeding and Genetics. Academic Press, Inc., Orlando, FL, pp. 235–252Google Scholar
- Koo, H.-N., Lee, S.G., Yun, S.-H., Kim, H.K., Choi, Y.S., Kim G.-H. (2016) Comparative analyses of Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) and thioredoxin reductase (TrxR) at the mRNA level between Apis mellifera L. and Apis cerana F. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) under stress conditions. J. Insect Sci. 16:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Malta, J., Martins, G.F., Marques, A.E., Games, P.D., Zanuncio, J.C., Baracat-Pereira, M.C., Salomão, T.M.F. (2014) Insights into the proteome of the spermatheca of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Fla. Entomol. 97, 1856–1861Google Scholar
- Snodgrass, R.E. (1985) Anatomy of the Honey Bee. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
- Wilde, J. (1994) Comparison of the development and productivity of bee colonies with naturally and instrumentally inseminated queens kept in different conditions before and after the insemination. Zootechnica 39, 135–152Google Scholar
- Winston, M.L. (1987) The Biology of the Honey Bee. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar