Expression of heat shock proteins in adult honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) workers under hot-arid subtropical ecosystems

Abdulaziz S. Alqarni, Hussain Ali, Javaid Iqbal, Ayman A. Owayss, Brian H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Heat stress elicits the expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs) in honey bee subspecies. These highly conserved proteins have significant role in protecting cells from thermal-induced stresses. Honey bees in subtropical regions face extremely dry and hot environment. The expression of HSPs in the nurses and foragers of indigenous (Apis mellifera jemenitica) and imported European (Apis mellifera ligustica and Apis mellifera carnica) honey bee subspecies after heat shock treatment were compared using SDS-PAGE. Hsp70 and Hsp82 were equally expressed in the nurses of all tested bee subspecies when exposed to 40 °C and 45 °C for 4 h. The forager bees exhibited differential expression of HSPs after heat stress. No HSPs was expressed in the foragers of A. m. jemenitica, and Hsp70 was expressed only in the foragers of A. m. ligustica and A. m. carnica at 40 °C. A prominent diversity in HSPs expression was also exhibited in the foragers at 45 °C with one HSP (Hsp70) in A. m. jemenitica, two HSPs (Hsp40 and Hsp70) in A. m. carnica, and three HSPs (Hsp40, Hsp60 and Hsp70) in A. m. ligustica. No HSPs was expressed in the control nurse and forager bees at any of the tested temperatures. These findings illustrated the differences in HSP expression among nurse and forager bees. It is obvious that the native foragers are more heat tolerant with least HSPs expression than exotic bee races. Further investigations will help to understand the potential role of HSPs in the adaptability, survival, and performance of bee subspecies in harsh climate of the subtropical regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1372-1376
Number of pages5
JournalSaudi Journal of Biological Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Apis mellifera
  • Heat shock proteins
  • Heat stress
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Subtropics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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