Antibiotic treatment impairs protein digestion in the honeybee, Apis mellifera
Nutritional stress due to habitat transformation and loss is one of several factors contributing to current declines in global bee populations. Bees obtain protein from pollen, which in honeybees is consumed and digested by nurse bees. They then distribute the protein to the rest of the colony in the form of hypopharyngeal gland secretions. Little is known of how efficiently honeybees digest protein. Moreover, antibiotics are used by beekeepers as in-hive treatments for diseases and may interfere with microbial contributions to protein digestion. Caged, newly emerged workers of Apis mellifera scutellata were fed caseinate as protein source, to investigate the effects of protein intake and antibiotic treatment on digestive efficiency. These workers were fed protein:carbohydrate ratios of 1:120, 1:50 and 1:15 or pure sucrose for 9 days. Half the cages received dietary oxytetracycline at a concentration used by beekeepers. Antibiotic exposure did not affect survival or protein consumption. Protein digestive efficiency increased with increasing levels of protein in the diet, although a decrease would have contributed to maintaining nutrient balance. Importantly, we show that antibiotic exposure impaired protein digestive efficiency, especially on low-protein diets. This may be particularly important when colonies are restricted to a single protein deficient source of pollen.
KeywordsBee nutrition Protein digestion Digestive efficiency Antibiotic Oxytetracycline
We thank G. Wright and Z. Apostolides for useful discussions.
S.W.N conceived the study. All authors designed the study. E.E.dR, C.S. and H.H. performed the experiments. E.E.dR performed data analysis and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. C.W.W.P. and S.W.N. contributed to revisions and secured funding. All authors gave final approval for publication.
This work was supported by the University of Pretoria, including a postdoctoral scholarship to E.E.dR, and by the National Research Foundation of South Africa to S.W.N. and C.W.W.P.
Un traitement antibiotique entrave la digestion des protéines chez Apis mellifera.
nutrition des abeilles / digestion des protéines / antibiotique / oxytétracycline.
Eine Antibiotikabehandlung beeinträchtigt die Eiweißverdauung bei der Honigbiene Apis mellifera .
Bienenernährung / Eiweißverdauung / Antibiotika / Oxytetracycline.
- Cabbri, R., Ferlizza, E., Nanetti, A., Monari, E., Andreani, G., Galuppi, R., and Isani, G. (2018). Biomarkers of nutritional status in honeybee haemolymph: effects of different biotechnical approaches for Varroa destructor treatment and wintering phase. Apidologie49 (5), 606–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Danty, E., Arnold, G., Burmester, T., Huet, J.-C., Huet, D., Pernollet, J.-C., and Masson, C. (1998). Identification and developmental profiles of hexamerins in antenna and hemolymph of the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol.28 (5–6), 387–397.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Lee, F.J., Miller, K.I., McKinlay, J.B., and Newton, I.L.G. (2018). Differential carbohydrate utilization and organic acid production by honey bee symbionts. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol.94 (8), 1–10.Google Scholar
- Li, J., Heerman, M.C., Evans, J.D., Rose, R., Li, W., Rodríguez-García, C., DeGrandi-Hoffman, G., Zhao, Y., Huang, S., Li, Z., Hamilton, M., and Chen, Y. (2019). Pollen reverses decreased lifespan, altered nutritional metabolism and suppressed immunity in honey bees (Apis mellifera) treated with antibiotics. J. Exp. Biol.222 (7), jeb202077.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar