The curious case of aging plasticity in honey bees

Daniel Münch, Gro Amdam

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


As in all advanced insect societies, colony-organization in honey bees emerges through a structured division of labor between essentially sterile helpers called workers. Worker bees are sisters that conduct all social tasks except for egg-laying, for example nursing brood and foraging for food. Curiously, aging progresses slowly in workers that engage in nursing and even slower when bees postpone nursing during unfavorable periods. We, therefore, seek to understand how senescence can emerge as a function of social task performance. The alternative utilization of a common yolk precursor protein (vitellogenin) in nursing and somatic maintenance can link behavior and aging plasticity in worker bees. Beneficial effects of vitellogenin may also be mediated by inhibitory action on juvenile hormone and insulin-like signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2496-2503
Number of pages8
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Care-giving
  • Insulin-like signaling
  • Senescence
  • Sibling
  • Social behavior
  • Vitellogenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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