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Title:Molecular analyses of endocrine and nutritional factors that affect division of labor and health in honey bees (Apis mellifera)
Author(s):Wheeler, Marsha
Director of Research:Robinson, Gene E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Robinson, Gene E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Berenbaum, May R.; Sinha, Saurabh; Whitfield, Charles W.
Department / Program:Entomology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Honey bees
juvenile hormone
pars intercerebralis
high fructose corn syrup
Abstract:In animals, food-related behaviors are linked to health, reproduction and survival. As such, the processes that regulate these behaviors involve complex interactions between the environment and an individual’s physiological state. In social animals, social interactions additionally influence food choices, and these choices are regulated internally through crosstalk between the brain and the body. Here, I employ a transcriptomic approach to understand how environmental and physiological factors mediate the onset of foraging behavior in the highly social honey bee (Apis mellifera). In Chapter 1, I provide a detailed overview of each experimental chapter included in this dissertation. In Chapter 2, I investigate the molecular mechanisms by which a peripheral storage protein, vitellogenin, regulates foraging onset. Using RNA interference and gene expression profiling, I show that vitellogenin elicits a strong transcriptomic response in the brain that closely resembles the response elicited by another key regulator of foraging onset, juvenile hormone. These results suggest these two physiological factors act through common pathways to regulate honey bee behavior. To provide greater mechanistic insights, in Chapter 3, I investigate a brain region, the pars intercerebralis, which is known to interact with nutritional cues and with juvenile hormone in other insect species. To investigate whether the pars intercerebralis is involved in regulating foraging behavior in honey bees, I specifically tested whether this brain region is responsive to dietary manipulations and alterations in juvenile hormone levels. The results of this study suggest the pars intercerebralis is implicated in the onset of foraging behavior and provide evidence for changes in pars intercerebralis function related to honey bee social evolution. Lastly, in Chapter 4, I explore a different aspect of the relationship between nutrition and honey bees. I examine the effects of apicultural food supplements on gene expression in adipose tissue. These results show that honey elicits a distinct transcriptomic response, indicating honey provides nutritional components that are absent in commonly used apicultural food supplements.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Marsha Wheeler
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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