No Genetic Tradeoffs between Hygienic Behaviour and Individual Innate Immunity in the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera

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No Genetic Tradeoffs between Hygienic Behaviour and Individual Innate Immunity in the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:13 pm

Many animals have individual and social mechanisms for combating pathogens. Animals may exhibit short-term physiological tradeoffs between social and individual immunity because the latter is often energetically costly. Genetic tradeoffs between these two traits can also occur if mutations that enhance social immunity diminish individual immunity, or vice versa. Physiological tradeoffs between individual and social immunity have been previously documented in insects, but there has been no study of genetic tradeoffs involving these traits. There is strong evidence that some genes influence both innate immunity and behaviour in social insects – a prerequisite for genetic tradeoffs. Quantifying genetic tradeoffs is critical for understanding the evolution of immunity in social insects and for devising effective strategies for breeding disease-resistant pollinator populations. We conducted two experiments to test the hypothesis of a genetic tradeoff between social and individual immunity in the honey bee, Apis mellifera. First, we estimated the relative contribution of genetics to individual variation in innate immunity of honey bee workers, as only heritable traits can experience genetic tradeoffs. Second, we examined if worker bees with hygienic sisters have reduced individual innate immune response. We genotyped several hundred workers from two colonies and found that patriline genotype does not significantly influence the antimicrobial activity of a worker’s hemolymph. Further, we did not find a negative correlation between hygienic behaviour and the average antimicrobial activity of a worker’s hemolymph across 30 honey bee colonies. Taken together, our work indicates no genetic tradeoffs between hygienic behaviour and innate immunity in honey bees. Our work suggests that using artificial selection to increase hygienic behaviour of honey bee colonies is not expected to concurrently compromise individual innate immunity of worker bees.

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