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Dr. Olav Rueppell (Biology) received a continuation of funding from the DOD DA Army Research Office (ARO) for the project “Studies of the Plasticity of Stress Defense Induction in the Social Honey Bee Model.”

The western honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) represents one of the most important invertebrate research models in the post-genomic era. In addition to their importance in basic research, honey bees have received scientific attention because they are economically and ecologically important pollinators. The number of managed honey bee hives shows a long-term decline over the past sixty years. The main factors that are considered for their negative effects on honey bee health are pathogens, pesticides, nutrition, and general management stress. Many abiotic and biotic factors may stress individuals at lower levels, creating sublethal adverse effects. However, many stressors can have beneficial effects in a variety of organisms and contexts when the organisms are exposed to low levels. The central hypothesis of the proposed research project is that the induction of defense mechanisms varies among essential and non-essential components of biological systems. They will address this hypothesis by testing the prediction that honey bee colony members show different degrees of inducible stress defenses according to their importance to their colony. The project will consist of the following five specific aims: 1) Inducing stress defense mechanisms in honey bees. 2) Investigation of caste differences in stress defense induction. 3) Investigation of within-caste differences in stress defense induction. 4) Characterization of the systemic response of stress defense induction. 5) Measuring the cost of stress defense induction as physiological effects. Together, these aims will lead to a comprehensive understanding of stress induction in its relation to social evolution in honey bees with general implications for understanding the evolution of stress responses and for maintaining pollinator health.

Rueppell also received new funding from the DOD DA Army Research Office (ARO) for the project “The Impact of Body Size on Resilience in Apis mellifera.”

The western honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) represents one of the most important invertebrate research models in the post-genomic era. In addition to their importance in basic research, honey bees have received scientific attention because they are economically and ecologically important pollinators. The number of managed honey bee hives shows a long-term decline over the past sixty years. The main factors that are considered for their negative effects on honey bee health are pathogens, pesticides, nutrition, and general management stress. Many abiotic and biotic factors may stress individuals at lower levels, creating sublethal adverse effects. Basic parameters of stress response in honey bees are not understood. Importantly, we do not know anything about how body size variation plays into stress resistance. This proposal focuses on experimentally induced body size variation and its consequences for stress resistance at the molecular, individual, and colony level.

 
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