Cell mediated immunity of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) involves the activity of
several hemocyte populations, currently defined by morphological features and lectin
binding characteristics. The objective of the present study was to identify molecular
markers capable of characterizing subsets of honey bee hemocytes. We developed and
employed monoclonal antibodies with restricted reactions to functionally distinct
hemocyte subpopulations. Melanizing cells, known as oenocytoids, were defined by an
antibody to prophenoloxidase, aggregating cells were identified by the expression
of Hemolectin, and phagocytic cells were identified by a marker expressed on granulocytes.
We anticipate that this combination of antibodies not only allows for the detection
of functionally distinct hemocyte subtypes, but will help to further the exploration
of hematopoietic compartments, as well as reveal details of the honey bee cellular
immune defense against parasites and microbes.