The natural composition of nutrients present in food is a key factor determining the immune function and stress responses in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). We previously demonstrated that a supplement of abscisic acid (ABA), a natural component of nectar, pollen, and honey, increases honeybee colony survival overwinter. Here we further explored the role of ABA in in vitro-reared larvae exposed to low temperatures. Four-day-old larvae (L4) exposed to 25°C for 3 days showed lower survival rates and delayed development compared to individuals growing at a standard temperature (34°C). Cold-stressed larvae maintained higher levels of ABA for longer than do larvae reared at 34°C, suggesting a biological significance for ABA. Larvae fed with an ABA-supplemented diet completely prevent the low survival rate due to cold stress and accelerate adult emergence. ABA modulates the expression of genes involved in metabolic adjustments and stress responses: Hexamerin 70b, Insulin Receptor Substrate, Vitellogenin, and Heat Shock Proteins 70. AmLANCL2, the honeybee ABA receptor, is also regulated by cold stress and ABA. These results support a role for ABA increasing the tolerance of honeybee larvae to low temperatures through priming effects.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3721795.
- Received October 6, 2016.
- Accepted March 8, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.