Identification and metabolic analysis of “hungry-signal” pheromones from honeybee larvae (Apis mellifera) (#231)
Abstract: Pheromones play an important role in the communication system of eusocial insect species. Here we describe a new pheromone by which larval honey bees (Apis mellifera) signal their hunger state to workers. We used a needle trap system to gather volatile compounds from food deprived honey bee larvae, fed larvae and larval food. Analysis with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, identified E-β-Ocimene as a possible candidate for hungry signal from honey bee larvae. E-β-ocimene was detected from both 2d and 4d worker, drone and queen larvae and more was detected from starving larvae than fed larvae and from larval food. RNA-sequence analysis indicated that 14 genes were involved in the E-β-Ocimene biosynthetic pathway but these were not significantly differently expressed between starving larvae and fed larvae. These results suggest that E-β-ocimene is a candidate for a “hungry-signal” pheromone for honey bee larvae and is denovo synthesised by the larva, but its biosynthesis process may be regulated by other means.