Physiological correlates of genetic variation for rate of behavioral development in the honeybee, Apis mellifera
- Cite this article as:
- Giray, T., Huang, ZY., Guzmán-Novoa, E. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1999) 47: 17. doi:10.1007/s002650050645
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Two factors that influence age at onset of foraging in honeybees are juvenile hormone (JH) and colony age demography (older bees inhibit behavioral development of younger bees). We tested the hypothesis that genetic variation among bees for these factors influences genetic variation in behavioral development. Pairs of colonies showing genetic differences in rates of behavioral development were identified in a screening experiment and bees from these colonies were used for physiological and behavioral assays. Six pairs were assayed, three with European bees only and three with both European and Africanized bees. There was genetic variation for the following four components: (1) production of JH in four pairs (experiment 1); (2) sensitivity to JH in three pairs (experiment 2); (3) sensitivity to social inhibition in three pairs (experiment 3), and (4) potency of social inhibition in four pairs (experiment 4). Cross-fostering assays (experiment 5), which allowed all four components to be evaluated simultaneously, revealed genetic variation for production of JH, sensitivity to JH, or sensitivity to social inhibition in five of six pairs, and potency of social inhibition in five of six pairs. There was often evidence for genotypic differences in more than one component, and no consistent pattern of association among any of the components. Africanized bees had faster rates of behavioral development than European bees, but there were no racial differences in patterns of variation among the four components. These results indicate that there are at least several, apparently distinct, physiological processes associated with JH and colony age demography upon which natural selection can act to alter the rate of behavioral development in honeybees.