Free access
Volume 40, Number 1, January-February 2009
Page(s) 29 - 39
Published online 24 December 2008
Apidologie 40 (2009) 29-39
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2008064

Changes in integument structure during the imaginal molt of the honey bee

Moysés Elias-Neto, Michelle P.M. Soares and Márcia M.G. Bitondi

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 3 April 2008 – Revised 2 September 2008 – Accepted 29 September 2008 - Published online 24 December 2008

Abstract - The changing pattern of developing cuticle and associated epidermis is described during the imaginal molt in the honey bee. Observations began immediately after the pupal molt, and included histological analyses of the integument during apolysis and the subsequent deposition and differentiation of the adult cuticle. Apolysis coincides with a marked increase in the thickness and reorganization of the epidermal layer, reflecting changes in cell structure. The epidermis remains thickened during the period of cuticle deposition, suggesting intense biosynthetic activity, but turns into a very thin layer during cuticle differentiation, clearly indicating that secretory activity for cuticle formation is terminating. The thoracic cuticle differentiates earlier and becomes thicker than the abdominal. The observed changes in integument structure provide insights that permit an improved physiological characterization for staging pupal and pharate adult development.

Key words: Apis mellifera / integument / metamorphosis / adult cuticle / exoskeleton

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008