Free access
Volume 34, Number 3, May-June 2003
Page(s) 257 - 267
Apidologie 34 (2003) 257-267
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003019

Protein content and pattern during mucus gland maturation and its ecdysteroid control in honey bee drones

Nínive Aguiar Colonello and Klaus Hartfelder

Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida Bandeirantes 3900, 14040-901 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
(Received 10 July 2002; revised 17 October 2002; accepted 18 October 2002)

We analyzed mucus gland protein content and pattern for drones of Africanized honey bees. The effect of exogenous ecdysteroids on mucus gland maturation was judged against the endogenous ecdysteroid titer. During the first 5 days of adult life, the mucus protein content increases steeply, whereas the protein pattern becomes reduced in complexity. Subsequently, the protein content decreases, reaching a plateau level at day 8. The protein pattern of mature glands is characterized by three dominant polypeptides. Injection of 20-hydroxyecdysone into newly emerged drones abolished the normal increase in protein content and prolonged the persistence of the protein pattern typical for immature glands. Ecdysteroids thus appear to act as negative regulators in the maturation process of drone mucus glands. This hypothesis received support from analyses of the hemolymph ecdysteroid titer, which was found to rapidly decline soon after emergence.

Key words: male accessory gland / ecdysone / radioimmunoassay / Apis mellifera / mucus protein

Correspondence and reprints: Klaus Hartfelder

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003