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Open AccessArticle

Novel Insights into Dietary Phytosterol Utilization and Its Fate in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.)

Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University, 4017 Agriculture & Life Sciences Building, Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
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Molecules 2020, 25(3), 571; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25030571
Received: 14 December 2019 / Revised: 22 January 2020 / Accepted: 25 January 2020 / Published: 28 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bee Products: From Molecules to Human Health)
Poor nutrition is an important factor in global bee population declines. A significant gap in knowledge persists regarding the role of various nutrients (especially micronutrients) in honey bees. Sterols are essential micronutrients in insect diets and play a physiologically vital role as precursors of important molting hormones and building blocks of cellular membranes. Sterol requirements and metabolism in honey bees are poorly understood. Among all pollen sterols, 24-methylenecholesterol is considered the key phytosterol required by honey bees. Nurse bees assimilate this sterol from dietary sources and store it in their tissues as endogenous sterol, to be transferred to the growing larvae through brood food. This study examined the duration of replacement of such endogenous sterols in honey bees. The dietary 13C-labeled isotopomer of 24-methylenecholesterol added to artificial bee diet showed differential, progressive in vivo assimilation across various honey bee tissues. Significantly higher survival, diet consumption, head protein content and abdominal lipid content were observed in the dietary sterol-supplemented group than in the control group. These findings provide novel insights into phytosterol utilization and temporal pattern of endogenous 24-methylenecholesterol replacement in honey bees. View Full-Text
Keywords: honey bee nutrition; 24-methylenecholesterol; phytosterol; insect physiology; endogenous sterol replacement; isotopomer honey bee nutrition; 24-methylenecholesterol; phytosterol; insect physiology; endogenous sterol replacement; isotopomer
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chakrabarti, P.; Lucas, H.M.; Sagili, R.R. Novel Insights into Dietary Phytosterol Utilization and Its Fate in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.). Molecules 2020, 25, 571.

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