Vitellogenin in the honey bee midgut

Gyan Harwood, Gro Amdam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The alimentary canal carries out many functions critical to insect physiology, including digesting and absorbing nutrients and water, housing beneficial gut bacteria, and eliciting immunological responses. The midgut, in particular, is a compartment for digestion and absorption and serves as a first point of contact between ingested pathogens and the insect immune system. Recently, we found the protein vitellogenin (Vg) localized in midgut cells of some honey bee workers. Vg is an important egg-yolk precursor protein in nearly all oviparous animals, but it also has immunological functions shared across many taxa. Additional and unexpected Vg functions have been characterized in honey bees, but none of these functions involve the midgut directly. Therefore, we sought to map out how Vg is localized and expressed in this organ across the two most common worker bee behavioral groups, namely nurses and foragers. We used immunohistochemistry and quantitative reverse transcription PCR to show Vg has different localization patterns in nurses and foragers and limited gene expression. Our study provides a platform for building a more detailed understanding of the possible roles of Vg in insect midgut cells, and it adds to the current knowledge of this fascinating, multi-functional protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-847
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Honey bee
  • histology
  • midgut
  • peritrophic membrane
  • vitellogenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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