Special Issue "Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects"

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sara Diana Leonhardt
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Am Hubland, 97074, Würzburg, Germany
Interests: chemical and nutritional ecology; bee–plant interactions; behavioral ecology; biodiversity; tropical ecology
Dr. Mathieu Lihoreau
Website
Guest Editor
Research Center on Animal Cognition (CRCA), Center for Integrative Biology (CBI); CNRS, University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse 31062, France
Interests: cognition; nutrition; social interactions; individual-based models
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Johannes Spaethe
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Am Hubland, 97074, Würzburg, Germany
Interests: bees; behavioral ecology; (color) vision; learning and memory; neuroethology; pollination

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Insects, just like any other organism, need to acquire appropriate amounts of specific nutrients in order to thrive and reproduce successfully. Insects have evolved highly sophisticated strategies to locate, memorize and select valuable nutritional resources in complex environments. In this Special Issue, we want to further elucidate the behavioral, physiological/sensory and cognitive mechanisms underlying such sophisticated resource exploitation and nutrient intake regulation across feeding guilds, ecological contexts and social complexities. One aim is to better understand the physiological and/or sensory adaptations that enable resource selection and exploitation in heterogeneous environments. We therefore welcome contributions of studies on nutritional resource exploitation in the field and in the lab as well as studies investigating the sensory, physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying nutrient intake regulation.

Dr. Sara Diana Leonhardt
Dr. Mathieu Lihoreau
Dr. Johannes Spaethe
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Insects is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • foraging
  • plant-insect interactions
  • nutrition
  • cognition
  • learning and memory
  • mutualistic microbes
  • social behaviour

Published Papers (11 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review, Other

Open AccessEditorial
Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects
Insects 2020, 11(9), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090570 - 25 Aug 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Insects have evolved an extraordinary range of nutritional adaptations to exploit other animals, plants, bacteria, fungi and soils as resources in terrestrial and aquatic environments. This special issue provides some new insights into the mechanisms underlying these adaptations. Contributions comprise lab and field [...] Read more.
Insects have evolved an extraordinary range of nutritional adaptations to exploit other animals, plants, bacteria, fungi and soils as resources in terrestrial and aquatic environments. This special issue provides some new insights into the mechanisms underlying these adaptations. Contributions comprise lab and field studies investigating the chemical, physiological, cognitive and behavioral mechanisms that enable resource exploitation and nutrient intake regulation in insects. The collection of papers highlights the need for more studies on the comparative sensory ecology, underlying nutritional quality assessment, cue perception and decision making to fully understand how insects adjust resource selection and exploitation in response to environmental heterogeneity and variability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review, Other

Open AccessArticle
Asteraceae Paradox: Chemical and Mechanical Protection of Taraxacum Pollen
Insects 2020, 11(5), 304; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11050304 - 14 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Excessive pollen harvesting by bees can compromise the reproductive success of plants. Plants have therefore evolved different morphological structures and floral cues to narrow the spectrum of pollen feeding visitors. Among “filtering” mechanisms, the chemical and mechanical protection of pollen might shape bee-flower [...] Read more.
Excessive pollen harvesting by bees can compromise the reproductive success of plants. Plants have therefore evolved different morphological structures and floral cues to narrow the spectrum of pollen feeding visitors. Among “filtering” mechanisms, the chemical and mechanical protection of pollen might shape bee-flower interactions and restrict pollen exploitation to a specific suite of visitors such as observed in Asteraceae. Asteraceae pollen is indeed only occasionally exploited by generalist bee species but plentifully foraged by specialist ones (i.e., Asteraceae paradox). During our bioassays, we observed that micro-colonies of generalist bumblebee (Bombus terrestris L.) feeding on Taraxacum pollen (Asteraceae) reduced their pollen collection and offspring production. Bees also experienced physiological effects of possible defenses in the form of digestive damage. Overall, our results suggest the existence of an effective chemical defense in Asteraceae pollen, while the hypothesis of a mechanical defense appeared more unlikely. Pre- and post-ingestive effects of such chemical defenses (i.e., nutrient deficit or presence of toxic compounds), as well as their role in the shaping of bee-flower interactions, are discussed. Our results strongly suggest that pollen chemical traits may act as drivers of plant selection by bees and partly explain why Asteraceae pollen is rare in generalist bee diets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Adding Amino Acids to a Sucrose Diet Is Not Sufficient to Support Longevity of Adult Bumble Bees
Insects 2020, 11(4), 247; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040247 - 15 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Dietary macro-nutrients (i.e., carbohydrates, protein, and fat) are important for bee larval development and, thus, colony health and fitness. To which extent different diets (varying in macro-nutrient composition) affect adult bees and whether they can thrive on nectar as the sole amino acid [...] Read more.
Dietary macro-nutrients (i.e., carbohydrates, protein, and fat) are important for bee larval development and, thus, colony health and fitness. To which extent different diets (varying in macro-nutrient composition) affect adult bees and whether they can thrive on nectar as the sole amino acid source has, however, been little investigated. We investigated how diets varying in protein concentration and overall nutrient composition affected consumption, longevity, and breeding behavior of the buff-tailed bumble bee, Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Queenless micro-colonies were fed either natural nutrient sources (pollen), nearly pure protein (i.e., the milk protein casein), or sucrose solutions with low and with high essential amino acid content in concentrations as can be found in nectar. We observed micro-colonies for 110 days. We found that longevity was highest for pure pollen and lowest for pure sucrose solution and sucrose solution supplemented with amino acids in concentrations as found in the nectar of several plant species. Adding higher concentrations of amino acids to sucrose solution did only slightly increase longevity compared to sucrose alone. Consequently, sucrose solution with the applied concentrations and proportions of amino acids or other protein sources (e.g., casein) alone did not meet the nutritional needs of healthy adult bumble bees. In fact, longevity was highest and reproduction only successful in micro-colonies fed pollen. These results indicate that, in addition to carbohydrates and protein, adult bumble bees, like larvae, need further nutrients (e.g., lipids and micro-nutrients) for their well-being. An appropriate nutritional composition seemed to be best provided by floral pollen, suggesting that pollen is an essential dietary component not only for larvae but also for adult bees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Pollen Protein: Lipid Macronutrient Ratios May Guide Broad Patterns of Bee Species Floral Preferences
Insects 2020, 11(2), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11020132 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 7
Abstract
Pollinator nutritional ecology provides insights into plant–pollinator interactions, coevolution, and the restoration of declining pollinator populations. Bees obtain their protein and lipid nutrient intake from pollen, which is essential for larval growth and development as well as adult health and reproduction. Our previous [...] Read more.
Pollinator nutritional ecology provides insights into plant–pollinator interactions, coevolution, and the restoration of declining pollinator populations. Bees obtain their protein and lipid nutrient intake from pollen, which is essential for larval growth and development as well as adult health and reproduction. Our previous research revealed that pollen protein to lipid ratios (P:L) shape bumble bee foraging preferences among pollen host-plant species, and these preferred ratios link to bumble bee colony health and fitness. Yet, we are still in the early stages of integrating data on P:L ratios across plant and bee species. Here, using a standard laboratory protocol, we present over 80 plant species’ protein and lipid concentrations and P:L values, and we evaluate the P:L ratios of pollen collected by three bee species. We discuss the general phylogenetic, phenotypic, behavioral, and ecological trends observed in these P:L ratios that may drive plant–pollinator interactions; we also present future research questions to further strengthen the field of pollination nutritional ecology. This dataset provides a foundation for researchers studying the nutritional drivers of plant–pollinator interactions as well as for stakeholders developing planting schemes to best support pollinators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Floral Species Richness Correlates with Changes in the Nutritional Quality of Larval Diets in a Stingless Bee
Insects 2020, 11(2), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11020125 - 15 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Bees need food of appropriate nutritional quality to maintain their metabolic functions. They largely obtain all required nutrients from floral resources, i.e., pollen and nectar. However, the diversity, composition and nutritional quality of floral resources varies with the surrounding environment and can be [...] Read more.
Bees need food of appropriate nutritional quality to maintain their metabolic functions. They largely obtain all required nutrients from floral resources, i.e., pollen and nectar. However, the diversity, composition and nutritional quality of floral resources varies with the surrounding environment and can be strongly altered in human-impacted habitats. We investigated whether differences in plant species richness as found in the surrounding environment correlated with variation in the floral diversity and nutritional quality of larval provisions (i.e., mixtures of pollen, nectar and salivary secretions) composed by the mass-provisioning stingless bee Tetragonula carbonaria (Apidae: Meliponini). We found that the floral diversity of larval provisions increased with increasing plant species richness. The sucrose and fat (total fatty acid) content and the proportion and concentration of the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid decreased, whereas the proportion of the omega-3 fatty acid linolenic acid increased with increasing plant species richness. Protein (total amino acid) content and amino acid composition did not change. The protein to fat (P:F) ratio, known to affect bee foraging, increased on average by more than 40% from plantations to forests and gardens, while the omega-6:3 ratio, known to negatively affect cognitive performance, decreased with increasing plant species richness. Our results suggest that plant species richness may support T. carbonaria colonies by providing not only a continuous resource supply (as shown in a previous study), but also floral resources of high nutritional quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Inter-Individual Nectar Chemistry Changes of Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis
Insects 2020, 11(2), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11020075 - 22 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Nectar is crucial to maintain plant-pollinator mutualism. Nectar quality (nutritional composition) can vary strongly between individuals of the same plant species. The factors driving such inter-individual variation have however not been investigated closer. We investigated nectar quality of field scabious, Knautia arvensis in [...] Read more.
Nectar is crucial to maintain plant-pollinator mutualism. Nectar quality (nutritional composition) can vary strongly between individuals of the same plant species. The factors driving such inter-individual variation have however not been investigated closer. We investigated nectar quality of field scabious, Knautia arvensis in different grassland plant communities varying in species composition and richness to assess whether nectar quality can be affected by the surrounding plant community. We analyzed (with high performance liquid chromatography) the content of carbohydrates, overall amino acids, and essential amino acids. Amino acid and carbohydrate concentrations and proportions varied among plant individuals and with the surrounding plant community but were not related to the surrounding plant species richness. Total and individual carbohydrate concentrations were lowest, while proportions of the essential amino acids, valine, isoleucine, leucine (all phagostimulatory), and lysine were highest in plant species communities of the highest diversity. Our results show that K. arvensis nectar chemistry varies with the composition of the surrounding plant community, which may alter the taste and nutritional value and thus affect the plant’s visitor spectrum and visitation rate. However, the strong inter-individual variation in nectar quality requires additional studies (e.g., in semi-field studies) to disentangle different biotic and abiotic factors contributing to inter-individual nectar chemistry in a plant-community context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Warming Increases Pollen Lipid Concentration in an Invasive Thistle, with Minor Effects on the Associated Floral-Visitor Community
Insects 2020, 11(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010020 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Climate warming is likely to change the ways in which plants interact with their insect mutualists, for example through changes in phytochemistry. In particular, this may have implications for the ways in which we manage noxious weeds, which may spread more quickly if [...] Read more.
Climate warming is likely to change the ways in which plants interact with their insect mutualists, for example through changes in phytochemistry. In particular, this may have implications for the ways in which we manage noxious weeds, which may spread more quickly if they experience stronger mutualistic interactions. We grew the invasive nodding thistle, Carduus nutans, in two experimental treatments in the field: either passively warmed with open top chambers or at ambient temperatures. We collected pollen from thistles in each treatment and analysed the total protein, lipid, and carbohydrate content. We observed no difference in the pollen protein or carbohydrate content, but the total lipid content of the pollen was significantly higher in warmed plants. We conducted a total of 12.75 h of observations of putatively mutualistic, flower-visiting insects. In addition, we spent 4.17 h collecting bees that visited thistle inflorescences in the treatments, allowing us to identify them to species. We found a significant increase in the abundance of flower-visiting insects in the observations, but not bee abundance in collections. In addition, there was no treatment effect on the number of flower-visiting morphotypes in the observations, or bee species richness in the collections. However, a nonparametric test did identify a significant effect of warming on the composition of flower-visiting morphotypes in observations and bee species in collections. Overall, the warming treatment significantly increased lipid content of the pollen, but had relatively weak effects on insect visitation patterns. However, these effects may be amplified at larger spatial and temporal scales or higher temperatures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Insulin Receptor Substrate Gene Knockdown Accelerates Behavioural Maturation and Shortens Lifespan in Honeybee Workers
Insects 2019, 10(11), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10110390 - 05 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
In animals, dietary restriction or suppression of genes involved in nutrient sensing tends to increase lifespan. In contrast, food restriction in honeybees (Apis mellifera) shortens lifespan by accelerating a behavioural maturation program that culminates in leaving the nest as a forager. [...] Read more.
In animals, dietary restriction or suppression of genes involved in nutrient sensing tends to increase lifespan. In contrast, food restriction in honeybees (Apis mellifera) shortens lifespan by accelerating a behavioural maturation program that culminates in leaving the nest as a forager. Foraging is metabolically demanding and risky, and foragers experience increased rates of aging and mortality. Food-deprived worker bees forage at younger ages and are expected to live shorter lives. We tested whether suppression of a molecular nutrient sensing pathway is sufficient to accelerate the behavioural transition to foraging and shorten worker life. To achieve this, we reduced expression of the insulin receptor substrate (irs) gene via RNA interference in two selected lines of honeybees used to control for behavioural and genetic variation. irs encodes a membrane-associated protein in the insulin/insulin-like signalling (IIS) pathway that is central to nutrient sensing in animals. We measured foraging onset and lifespan and found that suppression of irs reduced worker bee lifespan in both genotypes, and that this effect was largely driven by an earlier onset of foraging behaviour in a genotype-conditional manner. Our results provide the first direct evidence that an IIS pathway gene influences behavioural maturation and lifespan in honeybees and highlight the importance of considering social environments and behaviours when investigating the regulation of aging and lifespan in social animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Diet on the Composition and Stability of Proteins Secreted by Honey Bees in Honey
Insects 2019, 10(9), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10090282 - 02 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Honey proteins are essential bee nutrients and antimicrobials that protect honey from microbial spoilage. The majority of the honey proteome includes bee-secreted peptides and proteins, produced in specialised glands; however, bees need to forage actively for nitrogen sources and other basic elements of [...] Read more.
Honey proteins are essential bee nutrients and antimicrobials that protect honey from microbial spoilage. The majority of the honey proteome includes bee-secreted peptides and proteins, produced in specialised glands; however, bees need to forage actively for nitrogen sources and other basic elements of protein synthesis. Nectar and pollen of different origins can vary significantly in their nutritional composition and other compounds such as plant secondary metabolites. Worker bees producing and ripening honey from nectar might therefore need to adjust protein secretions depending on the quality and specific contents of the starting material. Here, we assessed the impact of different food sources (sugar solutions with different additives) on honey proteome composition and stability, using controlled cage experiments. Honey-like products generated from sugar solution with or without additional protein, or plant secondary metabolites, differed neither in protein quality nor in protein quantity among samples. Storage for 4 weeks prevented protein degradation in most cases, without differences between food sources. The honey-like product proteome included several major royal jelly proteins, alpha-glucosidase and glucose oxidase. As none of the feeding regimes resulted in different protein profiles, we can conclude that worker bees may secrete a constant amount of each bee-specific protein into honey to preserve this highly valuable hive product. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research, Other

Open AccessReview
Using Nutritional Geometry to Explore How Social Insects Navigate Nutritional Landscapes
Insects 2020, 11(1), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010053 - 15 Jan 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Insects face many cognitive challenges as they navigate nutritional landscapes that comprise their foraging environments with potential food items. The emerging field of nutritional geometry (NG) can help visualize these challenges, as well as the foraging solutions exhibited by insects. Social insect species [...] Read more.
Insects face many cognitive challenges as they navigate nutritional landscapes that comprise their foraging environments with potential food items. The emerging field of nutritional geometry (NG) can help visualize these challenges, as well as the foraging solutions exhibited by insects. Social insect species must also make these decisions while integrating social information (e.g., provisioning kin) and/or offsetting nutrients provisioned to, or received from unrelated mutualists. In this review, we extend the logic of NG to make predictions about how cognitive challenges ramify across these social dimensions. Focusing on ants, we outline NG predictions in terms of fundamental and realized nutritional niches, considering when ants interact with related nestmates and unrelated bacterial, fungal, plant, and insect mutualists. The nutritional landscape framework we propose provides new avenues for hypothesis testing and for integrating cognition research with broader eco-evolutionary principles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Other

Open AccessOpinion
Open Data for Open Questions in Comparative Nutrition
Insects 2020, 11(4), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040236 - 09 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Achieving a better understanding of the consequences of nutrition to animal fitness and human health is a major challenge of our century. Nutritional ecology studies increasingly use nutritional landscapes to map the complex interacting effects of nutrient intake on animal performances, in a [...] Read more.
Achieving a better understanding of the consequences of nutrition to animal fitness and human health is a major challenge of our century. Nutritional ecology studies increasingly use nutritional landscapes to map the complex interacting effects of nutrient intake on animal performances, in a wide range of species and ecological contexts. Here, we argue that opening access to these hard-to-obtain, yet considerably insightful, data is fundamental to develop a comparative framework for nutrition research and offer new quantitative means to address open questions about the ecology and evolution of nutritional processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop