The effects of the social environment and age on juvenile hormone (JH) and reproduction were investigated by measuring ovarian development, hemolymph levels of JH III, and rates of JH biosynthesis from the same individual bumble bees (Bombus terrestris). Differences in social environment were associated with differences in rates of JH biosynthesis, JH titer and ovarian development. Young queenless workers had a higher rate of JH biosynthesis, JH titer and ovarian development than queenright (QR) workers of similar age. Dominant workers in QR colonies had a higher rate of JH biosynthesis, JH titer and ovarian development than low ranked workers of similar size. There was a positive correlation between JH titer and ovarian development, but no correlation between rate of JH biosynthesis and ovarian development or between JH biosynthesis and JH titer. Both JH titer and rate of JH biosynthesis increased with age from emergence to 3 days of age, but 6- day-old workers, egg-laying workers, and actively reproducing queens had high JH titers and highly developed ovaries but low rates of JH biosynthesis. These results show that reproduction in B. terrestris is strongly affected by the social environment and the influence of the environment on reproduction is mediated by JH. Our data also indicate that the rate of JH biosynthesis measured in vitro is not a reliable indicator of JH titer or ovarian development in B. terrestris; possible reasons are discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research has been carried out through the generous support of the Josef Buchmann Doctoral Fellowship Fund (to GB) and a research grant funded by the Binational Agriculture Research and Development (BARD) grant No. IS-2306-93 (to AH and GER). We would like to thank Tugrul Giray and Jamal Moshtaghian for assistance in JH titer analyses, and Joseph Sullivan for critically reading and commenting on previous versions of this manuscript.
- Corpora allata
- Juvenile hormone