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Title:Molecular bases of scouting behavior in honey bees
Author(s):Liang, Zhengzheng
Director of Research:Robinson, Gene E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Robinson, Gene E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Rhodes, Justin S.; Whitfield, Charles W.; Fuller, Rebecca C.
Department / Program:School of Molecular & Cell Bio
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Novelty seeking
scouting behavior
brain gene expression
individual difference
animal personality
honey bee
Abstract:Division of labor among honey bee foragers involves “scouts” and “recruits.” Scouts seek new food sources or nest sites independently and recruit other bees in the hive to the locations of good food or nest sites instead of exploiting the resources themselves. In this dissertation, I hypothesize that scouting behavior in honey bees is analogous to novelty- seeking behavior in vertebrates, and is therefore associated with differences in brain dopaminergic, octopaminergic and glutamatergic systems. I found significant brain down- regulation of the D1-type dopamine receptor genes and upregulation of the octopamine receptor genes in scouts compared to non-scouts. Microarray analysis confirmed these findings and further implicated glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmitter systems. Oral pharmacological treatments using glutamate or octopamine both increased the probability of scouting, while dopamine antagonists decreased it. Blocking glutamate vesicle transport inhibited the behavioral effect of glutamate. I further hypothesize that scouts who seek food sources and those who seek nest sites would share a common “molecular signature” in their brains. Behavioral analysis showed that nest-site scouts were 3.4 times more likely to seek food sources later, and they shared a minimum of 89-gene expression profiles that predicted individual behavior with high accuracy. These findings illustrated how individual differences in behavior can arise from differences in gene regulation, and demonstrate intriguing similarities in human and insect novelty seeking, subserved by conserved molecular components. A shared molecular signature of scouting behaviors across ecological contexts also supports the scouting tendency as an “animal personality” and provides a molecular standpoint for studying the evolution of personality.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Zhengzheng Liang
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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