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Spermatozoa production in male Varroa destructor and its impact on reproduction in worker brood of Apis mellifera



Spermatozoa production in male Varroa destructor and its impact on reproduction in worker brood of Apis mellifera



Experimental and Applied Acarology 74(1): 43-54



Reproduction in Varroa destructor exclusively takes place within the sealed honey bee brood cell and is, therefore, limited by the duration of the postcapping period. Oogenesis, ontogenetic development and mating must be optimized to ensure the production of as many mated daughter mites as possible. One adult male mite has to mate with up to five sister mites and transfer 30-40 spermatozoa to each female. We analyzed the production and transfer of male spermatozoa during a reproductive cycle by counting all spermatozoa in the genital tracts of the male and daughter mites in 80 worker brood cells at defined times after cell capping. We could show that spermatozoa production in male mites is an ongoing process throughout their adult lifetime starting after the adult molt. The spermatozoa are transferred to the females in an early non-capacitated stage and require further maturation within the female's genital tract. Our study points out that a Varroa male has at any time in the brood cell enough spermatozoa to inseminate all daughter mites but does not waste energy in producing a big surplus. In total one male produced, on average, 125 spermatozoa during a reproductive cycle in worker brood which is sufficient for successful matings with at least three daughter mites. Spermiogenesis in Varroa males represents therefore a further adaptation to the limited time available for reproduction.

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Accession: 065528110

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 29392466

DOI: 10.1007/s10493-018-0216-4


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