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Sporopollenin as a dilution agent in artificial diets for solitary bees

Tainsh, Fiona; Woodmansey, Shannon R.; Austin, Alexander J.; Bagnall, Toby E.; Gilbert, James D.J.


Fiona Tainsh

Shannon R. Woodmansey

Alexander J. Austin

Toby E. Bagnall

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Dr James Gilbert
Lecturer in Zoology/ Deputy Programme Leader, Zoology


Nutritional studies often require precise control of nutrients via dilution of artificial diets with indigestible material, but such studies in bees are limited. Common diluents like cellulose typically result in total mortality of bee larvae, making quantitative studies difficult. We investigated potential alternative dietary dilution agents, sporopollenin (pollen exines) and agar. We reared Osmia bicornis larvae on pollen diluted with these substances, alongside undiluted controls. Sporopollenin neither prevented nor improved survival, suggesting it is a suitable diluent. Agar appeared marginally to increase survival and its suitability requires further research. Both substances reduced cocoon weight, and sporopollenin also prolonged development, suggesting processing costs. Determining the physiological mechanisms driving these responses requires further work. Our findings should facilitate studies involving nutritional manipulations for solitary bees.


Tainsh, F., Woodmansey, S. R., Austin, A. J., Bagnall, T. E., & Gilbert, J. D. (in press). Sporopollenin as a dilution agent in artificial diets for solitary bees. Apidologie,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 3, 2020
Online Publication Date Oct 1, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 2, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 5, 2020
Journal Apidologie
Print ISSN 0044-8435
Electronic ISSN 1297-9678
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Artificial diet; Dilution agent; Solitary bee; Nutritional ecology; Geometric framework
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Published article (384 Kb)

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