KSEF RDE:Identifying Mechanisms of Resilience to Health Stressors in the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

Grants and Contracts Details


The honey bee (Apis mellifera) plays a substantial role in the economy of Kentucky. However honey bee populations are in decline, and developing effective ways to improve health is challenging because bees face diverse stressors (e.g., poor nutrition, pesticides, and parasites) that act synergistically to influence survivorship. Given the complexity of these threats to honey bee health, identifying individuals that are “resilient” to multiple health stressors, and developing ways to enhance this generalized resilience, presents a novel strategy to improve honey bee health. In previous work I showed that aggression is a robust predictor of resilience. Moreover, aggression and health during adulthood is affected by environmental experience during the pre-adult life stages, suggesting it is feasible to design an intervention to enhance resilience, though the physiological basis of resilience and thus the targets for future interventions are unknown. I propose to use an RNA sequencing approach to identify the physiological features and gene expression patterns that characterize resilient bees. I will sequence the brain and fat body transcriptomes of adult siblings showing high versus low resilience levels as a function of developmental experience to identify the genes and physiological processes associated with resilience. Data generated by the proposed project will provide information critical to two separate research projects that I am developing for federal funding. One project is aimed at improving honey bee health and the other is aimed at understanding the mechanisms through which the developmental environment causes lasting behavioral effects in honey bees. The current project will broadly impact studies of honey bee health and provide training for a graduate student interested in establishing commercial beekeeping operations in Kentucky. Moreover, project results will be disseminated to the public and the beekeeping community in the Lexington area.
Effective start/end date7/1/166/30/17


  • KY Science and Technology Co Inc: $29,863.00


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