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Reproductive parasitism by worker honey bees suppressed by queens through regulation of worker mandibular secretions.


ABSTRACT: Social cohesion in social insect colonies can be achieved through the use of chemical signals whose production is caste-specific and regulated by social contexts. In honey bees, queen mandibular gland pheromones (QMP) maintain reproductive dominance by inhibiting ovary activation and production of queen-like mandibular gland signals in workers. We investigated whether honey bee queens can control reproductively active workers of the intraspecific social parasite Apis mellifera capensis, parasitising A. m. scutellata host colonies. Our results show that the queen's QMP suppresses ovarian activation and inhibits the production of QMP pheromone signals by the parasitic workers, achieved through differential expression of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of these pheromones at two points in the biosynthetic pathway. This is the first report showing that honey bee queens can regulate reproduction in intraspecific social parasites and deepens our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of worker reproduction in social insects.

SUBMITTER: Mumoki FN 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5967312 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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