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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Antioxidant Enzymes in the Honey Bee, Apis Mellifera

Authors
item Weirich, Gunter - RETIRED
item Collins, Anita
item Williams, Virginia

Submitted to: Journal of Insect Physiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 24, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Breeding more desirable strains of honey bees is an integral part of the beekeeping industry world-wide. Because so much work is involved in maintaining each colony, the ability to store semen by itself would be more efficient. Stored semen could then be used at a later date in an artificial insemination program. Honey bee queens naturally store semen for several years. Knowledge of how the queen stores semen might provide insight into ways for bee breeders to store it as well. We determined the levels of several enzymes that protect cells from damage in several honey bee tissues. The information will be used by other research scientists and by members of the bee breeding industry.

Technical Abstract: Catalase (CAT), glutathione S-transferase (GST) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities were determined in honey bee semen, in 16,000 g supernatants of homogenized muscle, ventriculi and spermathecae, and in hemolymph plasma, obtained from virgin queens, mated queens and worker bees. CAT and GST activities of ventriculi of all three groups exceeded those of other tissues and hemolymph, CAT being highest in mated queen ventriculi (2.7 mU/ug fresh weight) and GST highest in worker ventriculi (10 mU/mg). The highest CAT activity was found in semen (4.8 mU/ug) where the enzyme was confined to the spermatozoa. The spermathecae of mated queens showed five times higher CAT activity (0.84 mU/ug) than virgin spermathecae. GST activities in spermathecae of mated queens (2.5 mU/ug) were also higher than those of virgin spermathecae. SOD activites (15-57 mU/ug) varied less than activites of CAT or GST between tissue. Seminal plasma contained two thirds of the total SOD activity of semen and one third was in the spermatozoa. Based on the substantial activities of all three enzymes in spermathecae of mated queens it was concluded that these enzymes contribute to the protection of the spermatozoa from oxidative stress.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014