The influence of formic acid on the body surface proteolytic system at different developmental stages in Apis mellifera L. workers
Aneta Joanna Strachecka, Jerzy Paleolog, Grzegorz Borsuk and Krzysztof Olszewski
To verify the hypothesis that formic acid (FA) has a suppressive effect on the proteolytic system of Apis mellifera cuticle depending on the developmental stage of the insects, 1 to 4-day-old larvae, 8-day-old larvae, pupae, 1-day-old workers, and foragers were sampled from FAtreated and untreated colonies for seven weeks. Hydrophilic (H+) and hydrophobic protein (H-) solutions were washed out from the sampled individual body surfaces. Subsequently, protein concentration, protease activities and protease inhibitor activities were determined. Antifungal and antibacterial activities were also determined.Two-week exposure to FA increased H+ and H- protein concentration but when it was prolonged to three to seven weeks, the concentration fell below the level of untreated colonies. FA treatment decreased H+ protease activities in workers and larvae, but increased them in pupae. H- protease activities oscillated (destabilisation) up and down relative to the control level which was steady. Asparagine and serine proteases were present on apian cuticles independently of the developmental stage, while FA application additionally activated thiolic proteases. FA treatment considerably decreased both H+ and H- natural protease inhibitor activities in larvae and pupae but mostly increased them in workers. Antifungal and antibacterial activities of the body surface washings (in vivo microbiological tests) were suppressed in workers and larvae treated with FA. FA treatment may suppress proteolytic resistance of the bee cuticle but the responses of larvae and workers are different.