University of Oulu

Aurori, CM, Giurgiu, A‐I, Conlon, BH, et al. Juvenile hormone pathway in honey bee larvae: A source of possible signal molecules for the reproductive behavior of Varroa destructor. Ecol Evol. 2021; 11: 1057– 1068.

Juvenile hormone pathway in honey bee larvae : a source of possible signal molecules for the reproductive behavior of Varroa destructor

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Author: Aurori, Cristian M.1; Giurgiu, Alexandru-Ioan1; Conlon, Benjamin H.2,3;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Animal Science and Biotechnology, University of Agriculture Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Cluj- Napoca, Romania
2Molecular Ecology, Institute of Biology/ Zoology, Martin-Luther-University Halle- Wittenberg, Halle, Germany
3Section for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
4Department of Ecology and Genetics and Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Advanced Horticultural Research Institute of Transylvania, University of Agriculture Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Cluj- Napoca, Romania
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-03-01


The parasitic mite Varroa destructor devastates honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies around the world. Entering a brood cell shortly before capping, the Varroa mother feeds on the honey bee larvae. The hormones 20‐hydroxyecdysone (20E) and juvenile hormone (JH), acquired from the host, have been considered to play a key role in initiating Varroa’s reproductive cycle. This study focuses on differential expression of the genes involved in the biosynthesis of JH and ecdysone at six time points during the first 30 hr after cell capping in both drone and worker larvae of A. mellifera. This time frame, covering the conclusion of the honey bee brood cell invasion and the start of Varroa’s ovogenesis, is critical to the successful initiation of a reproductive cycle. Our findings support a later activation of the ecdysteroid cascade in honey bee drones compared to worker larvae, which could account for the increased egg production of Varroa in A. mellifera drone cells. The JH pathway was generally downregulated confirming its activity is antagonistic to the ecdysteroid pathway during the larva development. Nevertheless, the genes involved in JH synthesis revealed an increased expression in drones. The upregulation of jhamt gene involved in methyl farnesoate (MF) synthesis came into attention since the MF is not only a precursor of JH but it is also an insect pheromone in its own right as well as JH‐like hormone in Acari. This could indicate a possible kairomone effect of MF for attracting the mites into the drone brood cells, along with its potential involvement in ovogenesis after the cell capping, stimulating Varroa’s initiation of egg laying.

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Series: Ecology and evolution
ISSN: 2045-7758
ISSN-E: 2045-7758
ISSN-L: 2045-7758
Volume: 11
Issue: 2
Pages: 1057 - 1068
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.7125
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was funded by the Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation, Exploratory Research Projects (PN III P4‐ID‐PCE‐2016‐0637 No. 162/2017 to R.F.A.M. and D.S.D.) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (RO 5121/1‐1 to J.R.). The publication fee was supported by funds from the National Research Development Projects to Finance Excellence (PFE)‐37/2018‐2020 granted by the Romanian Ministry of Research and Innovation.
Dataset Reference: The data that supports the findings of this study are available at with additional material to follow after a 1 year embargo, due to third party constraints.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.