H-1 NMR Profiling of Honey Bee Bodies Revealed Metabolic Differences between Summer and Winter Bees


Simple Summary The European honey bee, Apis mellifera, is well-known to have two distinct populations in temperate climate zone: short-living summer bees and long-living winter bees. Several biological factors related to the different lifespans of the two populations have been studied. However, the link between the metabolic changes and basic physiological features in the bodies of summer bees and winter bees is limited. This study aimed to identify the metabolic fingerprints that characterize summer and winter bees using proton nuclear magnetic resonance (H-1 NMR) spectroscopy. In total, we found 28 significantly changed metabolites between the two populations. The results suggest that the metabolites detected in honey bee bodies can distinguish the summer and winter bees. Changes in carbohydrates, amino acids, choline-containing compounds, and an unknown compound were noticeable during the transition from summer bees to winter bees. The results from this study give us a broad perspective on honey bee metabolism that will support future research related to honey bee lifespan and overwintering management. In temperate climates, honey bee workers of the species Apis mellifera have different lifespans depending on the seasonal phenotype: summer bees (short lifespan) and winter bees (long lifespan). Many studies have revealed the biochemical parameters involved in the lifespan differentiation of summer and winter bees. However, comprehensive information regarding the metabolic changes occurring in their bodies between the two is limited. This study used proton nuclear magnetic resonance (H-1 NMR) spectroscopy to analyze the metabolic differences between summer and winter bees of the same age. The multivariate analysis showed that summer and winter bees could be distinguished based on their metabolic profiles. Among the 36 metabolites found, 28 metabolites have displayed significant changes from summer to winter bees. Compared to summer bees, trehalose in winter bees showed 1.9 times higher concentration, and all amino acids except for proline and alanine showed decreased patterns. We have also detected an unknown compound, with a CH3 singlet at 2.83 ppm, which is a potential biomarker that is about 13 times higher in summer bees. Our results show that the metabolites in summer and winter bees have distinctive characteristics; this information could provide new insights and support further studies on honey bee longevity and overwintering.



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Lee, S; Kalcic, F; Duarte, IF; Titera, D; Kamler, M; Mrna, P; Hyrsl, P; Danihlik, J; Dobes, P; Kunc, M; Pudlo, A; Havlik, J

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