Complex relationship between amino acids, fitness and food intake in Bombus terrestris

C. Ruth Archer, Johannes Fähnle, Maximilian Pretzner, Cansu Üstüner, Nina Weber, Andreas Sutter, Vincent Doublet, Lena Wilfert

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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The ratio of amino acids to carbohydrates (AA:C) that bumble bees consume has been reported to affect their survival. However, it is unknown how dietary AA:C ratio affects other bumble bee fitness traits (e.g., fecundity, condition) and possible trade-offs between them. Moreover, while individual AAs affect phenotype in many species, the effects of AA blend on bumble bee fitness and food intake are unclear. We test how the AA:C ratio that bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) consume affects their condition (abdomen lipid and dry mass), survival following food removal, and ovarian activation. We then compare ovarian activation and food intake in bees fed identical AA:C ratios, but where the blend of AAs in diets differ, i.e., diets contained the same 10 AAs in an equimolar ratio or in the same ratio as in bee collected pollen. We found that AA:C ratio did not significantly affect survival following food removal or ovarian activation; however, high AA intake increased body mass, which is positively correlated with multiple fitness traits in bumble bees. AA blend (i.e., equimolar versus pollen) did not significantly affect overall ovarian activation or consumption of each experimental diet. However, there was an interaction between AA mix and dietary AA:C ratio affecting survival during the feeding experiment, and signs that there may have been weak, interactive effects of AA mix and AA:C ratio on food consumption. These results suggest that the effect of total AA intake on bumble bee phenotype may depend on the blend of individual AAs in experimental diets. We suggest that research exploring how AA blend affects bumble bee performance and dietary intake is warranted, and highlight that comparing research on bee nutrition is complicated by even subtle variation in experimental diet composition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545–1558
Number of pages14
JournalAmino Acids
Issue number10
Early online date29 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Bombus
  • Geometric framework of nutrition
  • Intake array
  • Trade-off

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