Honey bee queens undergo dramatic behavioral (e.g., reduced sexual receptivity), physiological (e.g., ovary activation, ovulation, and modulation of pheromone production) and transcriptional changes after they complete mating. To elucidate how queen post-mating changes are influenced by seminal fluid, the non-spermatozoa-containing component of semen, we injected queens with semen or seminal fluid alone. We assessed queen sexual receptivity (as measured by likelihood to take mating flights), ovary activation, worker retinue response (which is influenced by queen pheromone production), and transcriptional changes in queen abdominal fat body and brain tissues. Injection with either seminal fluid or semen resulted in decreased sexual receptivity, increased attractiveness of queens to workers, and altered expression of several genes that are also regulated by natural mating in queens. The post-mating and transcriptional changes of queens receiving seminal fluid were not significantly different from queens injected with semen, suggesting that components in seminal fluid, such as seminal fluid proteins, are largely responsible for stimulating post-mating changes in queens.
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