Free Access
Volume 33, Number 1, January-February 2002
Page(s) 3 - 14

Apidologie 33 (2002) 3-14
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2001001

Antioxidant enzymes in the honey bee, Apis mellifera

Gunter F. Weirich, Anita M. Collins and Virginia P. Williams

Bee Research Laboratory, ARS, USDA, bldg. 476, BARC-East, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705-2350, USA

(Received 12 May 2000; revised 1 August 2001; accepted 24 August 2001)

Catalase (CAT), glutathione S-transferase (GST) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities were determined in postmitochondrial fractions of tissue homogenates (spermathecae, muscle and ventriculi), in hemolymph plasma, and in semen of honey bees. The highest CAT activity was found in semen (4.8 mU/ $\mu$g fresh weight), and the enzyme was confined to the spermatozoa. CAT and GST activities of ventriculi exceeded those of other tissues and hemolymph, CAT being highest in mated queen ventriculi (2.7 mU/ $\mu$g) and GST highest in worker ventriculi (10 mU/mg). Spermathecae of mated queens had higher CAT and GST activities (0.84 mU/ $\mu$g, and 2.4 mU/mg, respectively) than virgin spermathecae (0.15 mU/ $\mu$g, and 1.6 mU/mg). SOD activities (15-59 mU/ $\mu$g) varied less than activities of CAT or GST between tissues. Seminal plasma contained two thirds of the total SOD activity of semen and one third was in the spermatozoa. The substantial activities of all three enzymes in spermathecae of mated queens suggest their involvement in the long-term protection of the spermatozoa from oxidative stress.

Key words: Apis mellifera / catalase / glutathione S-transferase / superoxide dismutase

Correspondence and reprints: Anita M. Collins

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002

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