Storage proteins in vespid wasps: Characterization, developmental pattern, and occurrence in adults

James H. Hunt, Norman A. Buck, Diana E. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Wasps of family Vespidae contain three types of major proteins that have the size, amino acid composition, subunit composition, immunological reactivity, and pattern of occurrence characteristic of storage proteins. The three types of storage protein, which have been identified in other Hymenoptera, are very high density lipoprotein, high glutamine/glutamic acid protein, and hexamerin. The predominant pattern of occurrence for these proteins is as known from most or all Holometabola: synthesis during the last larval instar and utilization as an amino acid source during metamorphosis. Hexamerin also occurred in a large young adult female Monobia quadridens but not a small one, which suggests that carry-over into adult females is a reaction norm response to quantity of larval provisions, because these wasps could not have fed as adults. In two paper wasp species of the genus Polistes, hexamerin was present in large adult females which emerged during the colony cycle phase when reproductive females are typically produced, but not in adult female offspring that emerged earlier in the colony cycle or in adult females that were workers. It cannot be confirmed by these data that the hexamerin in the adult paper wasps represented carry-over from metamorphosis rather than post-emergence feeding, but the pattern of occurrence suggests that presence of storage protein may play a role in caste differentiation in paper wasps. No storage protein was found in any adult Vespula maculifrons, a yellowjacket wasp, suggesting that caste differentiation in vespine wasps does not incorporate storage protein as a component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-794
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Caste
  • Fat body
  • Hexamerin
  • High density lipoprotein
  • High glutamine/glutamic acid protein
  • Hymenoptera
  • Storage protein
  • Vespidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Storage proteins in vespid wasps: Characterization, developmental pattern, and occurrence in adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this