Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Insect Physiology 99 (2017), pp 95–100.

doi 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2017.04.005


Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


ATP-sensitive inwardly rectifying potassium (KATP) channels couple cellular metabolism to the membrane potential of the cell and play an important role in a variety of tissue types, including the insect dorsal vessel, making them a subject of interest not only for understanding invertebrate physiology, but also as a potential target for novel insecticides. Most of what is known about these ion channels is the result of work performed in mammalian systems, with insect studies being limited to only a few species and physiological systems. The goal of this study was to investigate the role that KATP channels play in regulating cardiac function in a model social insect, the honey bee (Apis mellifera), by examining the effects that modulators of these ion channels have on heart rate. Heart rate decreased in a concentration-dependent manner, relative to controls, with the application of the KATP channel antagonist tolbutamide and KATP channel blockers barium and magnesium, whereas heart rate increased with the application of a low concentration of the KATP channel agonist pinacidil, but decreased at higher concentrations. Furthermore, pretreatment with barium magnified the effects of tolbutamide treatment and eliminated the effects of pinacidil treatment at select concentrations. The data presented here confirm a role for KATP channels in the regulation of honey bee dorsal vessel contractions and provide insight into the underlying physiology that governs the regulation of bee cardiac function.