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Insects 2018, 9(1), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9010031

Honeybees Tolerate Cyanogenic Glucosides from Clover Nectar and Flowers

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvej 40, DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen, Denmark
These authors contributed equally.
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 January 2018 / Revised: 21 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 March 2018 / Published: 13 March 2018
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Abstract

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) pollinate flowers and collect nectar from many important crops. White clover (Trifolium repens) is widely grown as a temperate forage crop, and requires honeybee pollination for seed set. In this study, using a quantitative LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry) assay, we show that the cyanogenic glucosides linamarin and lotaustralin are present in the leaves, sepals, petals, anthers, and nectar of T. repens. Cyanogenic glucosides are generally thought to be defense compounds, releasing toxic hydrogen cyanide upon degradation. However, increasing evidence indicates that plant secondary metabolites found in nectar may protect pollinators from disease or predators. In a laboratory survival study with chronic feeding of secondary metabolites, we show that honeybees can ingest the cyanogenic glucosides linamarin and amygdalin at naturally occurring concentrations with no ill effects, even though they have enzyme activity towards degradation of cyanogenic glucosides. This suggests that honeybees can ingest and tolerate cyanogenic glucosides from flower nectar. Honeybees retain only a portion of ingested cyanogenic glucosides. Whether they detoxify the rest using rhodanese or deposit them in the hive should be the focus of further research. View Full-Text
Keywords: clover (Trifolium repens); cyanogenic glucoside; honeybee (Apis mellifera); linamarin; nectar clover (Trifolium repens); cyanogenic glucoside; honeybee (Apis mellifera); linamarin; nectar
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Lecocq, A.; Green, A.A.; Pinheiro De Castro, É.C.; Olsen, C.E.; Jensen, A.B.; Zagrobelny, M. Honeybees Tolerate Cyanogenic Glucosides from Clover Nectar and Flowers. Insects 2018, 9, 31.

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