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Sterol and lipid metabolism in bees

Sterol and lipid metabolism in bees

Furse, Samuel, Koch, Hauke, Wright, Geraldine and Stevenson, Philip ORCID: 0000-0002-0736-3619 (2023) Sterol and lipid metabolism in bees. Metabolomics, 19:78. pp. 1-19. ISSN 1573-3882 (Print), 1573-3890 (Online) (doi:

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Bees provide essential pollination services for many food crops and are critical in supporting wild plant diversity. However, the dietary landscape of pollen food sources for social and solitary bees has changed because of agricultural intensification and habitat loss. For this reason, understanding the basic nutrient metabolism and meeting the nutritional needs of bees is becoming an urgent requirement for agriculture and conservation. We know that pollen is the principal source of dietary fat and sterols for pollinators, but a precise understanding of what the essential nutrients are and how much is needed is not yet clear. Sterols are key for producing the hormones that control development and may be present in cell membranes, where fatty-acid-containing species are important structural and signaling molecules (phospholipids) or to supply, store and distribute energy (glycerides).
Aim of the review:
In this critical review, we examine the current general understanding of sterol and lipid metabolism of social and solitary bees from a variety of literature sources and discuss implications for bee health.
Key scientific concepts of review:
We found that while eusocial bees are resilient to some dietary variation in sterol supply the scope for this is limited. The evidence of both de novo lipogenesis and a dietary need for particular fatty acids (FAs) shows that FA metabolism in insects is analogous to mammals but with distinct features. Bees rely on their dietary intake for essential sterols and lipids in a way that is dependent upon pollen availability.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Apis mellifera; Bombus terrestris; lipids; sterols; fatty acids; nutrition; queen bee acid; phospholipids; triglycerides
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QL Zoology
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Chemical Ecology Research Group
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2023 11:57

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