Higher vitellogenin concentrations in honey bee workers may be an adaptation to life in temperate climates
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The honey bee originated in tropical Africa and later dispersed to northern Europe. It has been suggested that a higher hemolymph storage capacity for the glycolipoprotein vitellogenin evolved in temperate regions, and that the trait constitutes an adaptation to a strongly seasonal environment. We have investigated whether the relative vitellogenin levels of European and African honey bees are in accordance with this hypothesis. Our data indicate that European workers have a higher set-point concentration for vitellogenin compared to their African origin. Considered together with available life history information and physiological data, the results lend support to the view that “winter bees”, a longlived honey bee worker caste that survives winter in temperate regions, evolved through an increase in the worker bees’ capacity for vitellogenin accumulation.
Keywords.Honey bee workers climatic regions evolution longevity vitellogenin
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