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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #391332

Research Project: Managing Honey Bees Against Disease and Colony Stress

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Title: Division of labor among worker bees is associated with the lipidomic plasticity in their brains

item ZHANG, XIAOJING - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item LIU, QINGSHENG - Jilin Provincial Institute Of Apicultural Sciences
item ZHAO, YAZHOU - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item KONG, LINGJIE - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item Chen, Yanping - Judy
item HAO, YUE - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item PENG, WENJUN - Chinese Academy Of Agricultural Sciences

Submitted to: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/9/2022
Publication Date: 6/30/2022
Citation: Zhang, X., Liu, Q., Zhao, Y., Kong, L., Chen, Y., Hao, Y., Peng, W. 2022. Division of labor among worker bees is associated with the lipidomic plasticity in their brains. Journal of Insect Physiology. 12:952.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bees are social insects and live within colonies with a queen, hundreds of drones, and thousands of workers. Worker bees perform a series of tasks in an age-related sequence during their lifetimes. This phenomenon is referred to as division of labor. We conducted research to investigate the association between the changes in lipid composition and abundance and the behavioral specialization in honeybees. We identified 337 unique lipid species representing four a total of 20 lipid classes from the brains of newly emerged bees, nurse bees, and forager bees. The results of this study provide novel insights into the role of lipid intermediates in honey bees' different social behaviors and should be of interest to researchers, graduate students, beekeepers, and policymakers worldwide.

Technical Abstract: The age-related division of labor is a dominant characteristics of honeybees and is accompanied by behavioral specialization and cognitive enhancement. The brain of a honeybee is the organ that is richest in terms of the diversity and abundance of lipids. however, the plasticity of lipid compositions in their brains in relation to how they divide labor is not clearly understood. In this study, an in-depth UPLC-Q-Exactive Orbitrap/MS-based lipidomic investigation of the brains of newly emerged bees (NEBs), nurse bees (NBs) and forager bees (FBs) were performed, and a total of 20 lipid classes, including 337 lipid species, were identified. Principal component analysis highlighted that the changes to worker bee brain lipids were closely associated with their division of labor. It was also found that an abundance of phosphatidylethanolamines, sphingomyelins and monohexosyl-ceramide was more likely among NBs and/or FBs compared with NEBs, whereas large amount of phosphatidylserines and ceramide were generally present among NEBs and not NBs and FBs. In addition, 81 lipid species were detected as potential labor-related examples of the substance with regard to their effect on worker bees' division of labor, and sphingomyelin(38:2) and phosphatidylethanolamine(18:3_18:3) were consistently more abundant among NEBs and FBs. Meanwhile, the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis revealed 14 genes were involved in regulating or being-regulated by the labor-related lipid species; it was already known that Gustatory receptor 10 (AmGR10), N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (AmNMDAR) and nitric oxide synthase (AmNOS) control worker bees nursing behavior/memory formation through experimental evidence. All in all, this research engages in a comprehensive lipidomic analysis of honeybees' brains and provides much needed insight into the interrelationships between brains lipids and the division of labor among worker bees.