The significant risk of disease transmission has selected for effective immune-defense strategies in insect societies. Division of labour, with individuals specialized in immunity-related tasks, strongly contributes to prevent the spread of diseases. A trade-off, however, may exist between phenotypic specialization to increase task efficiency and maintenance of plasticity to cope with variable colony demands. We investigated the extent of phenotypic specialization associated with a specific task by using allogrooming in the honeybee, Apis mellifera, where worker behaviour might lower ectoparasites load. We adopted an integrated approach to characterize the behavioural and physiological phenotype of allogroomers, by analyzing their behavior (both at individual and social network level), their immunocompetence (bacterial clearance tests) and their chemosensory specialization (proteomics of olfactory organs). We found that allogroomers have higher immune capacity compared to control bees, while they do not differ in chemosensory proteomic profiles. Behaviourally, they do not show differences in the tasks performed (other than allogrooming), while they clearly differ in connectivity within the colonial social network, having a higher centrality than control bees. This demonstrates the presence of an immune-specific physiological and social behavioural specialization in individuals involved in a social immunity related task, thus linking individual to social immunity, and it shows how phenotypes may be specialized in the task performed while maintaining an overall plasticity.

Increased immunocompetence and network centrality of allogroomer workers suggest a link between individual and social immunity in honeybees

Cini A.;Iovinella I.;
2020

Abstract

The significant risk of disease transmission has selected for effective immune-defense strategies in insect societies. Division of labour, with individuals specialized in immunity-related tasks, strongly contributes to prevent the spread of diseases. A trade-off, however, may exist between phenotypic specialization to increase task efficiency and maintenance of plasticity to cope with variable colony demands. We investigated the extent of phenotypic specialization associated with a specific task by using allogrooming in the honeybee, Apis mellifera, where worker behaviour might lower ectoparasites load. We adopted an integrated approach to characterize the behavioural and physiological phenotype of allogroomers, by analyzing their behavior (both at individual and social network level), their immunocompetence (bacterial clearance tests) and their chemosensory specialization (proteomics of olfactory organs). We found that allogroomers have higher immune capacity compared to control bees, while they do not differ in chemosensory proteomic profiles. Behaviourally, they do not show differences in the tasks performed (other than allogrooming), while they clearly differ in connectivity within the colonial social network, having a higher centrality than control bees. This demonstrates the presence of an immune-specific physiological and social behavioural specialization in individuals involved in a social immunity related task, thus linking individual to social immunity, and it shows how phenotypes may be specialized in the task performed while maintaining an overall plasticity.
Cini, A.; Bordoni, A.; Cappa, F.; Petrocelli, I.; Pitzalis, M.; Iovinella, I.; Dani, F. R.; Turillazzi, S.; Cervo, R.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/1141847
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