Molecular Determinants of Scouting Behavior in Honey Bees

Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 03/2012; 335(6073):1225-8. DOI: 10.1126/science.1213962
Source: PubMed


Little is known about the molecular basis of differences in behavior among individuals. Here we report consistent novelty-seeking behavior, across different contexts, among honey bees in their tendency to scout for food sources and nest sites, and we reveal some of the molecular underpinnings of this behavior relative to foragers that do not scout. Food scouts showed extensive differences in brain gene expression relative to other foragers, including differences related to catecholamine, glutamate, and γ-aminobutyric acid signaling. Octopamine and glutamate treatments increased the likelihood of scouting, whereas dopamine antagonist treatment decreased it. These findings demonstrate intriguing similarities in human and insect novelty seeking and suggest that this trait, which presumably evolved independently in these two lineages, may be subserved by conserved molecular components.

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Available from: Trang Nguyen-Vu, Jan 09, 2014
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    • "Scout bees are known to search for novel food sources and for new nest sites during swarming (reviews: von Frisch, 1967; Seeley, 2010). In the latter case, a robust tendency has been found for nest scouts also to show food-scouting behaviour (Liang et al., 2012) characterizing individual bees as information gatherers. Next, we asked how flight parameters changed in consecutive orientation flights. "
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    ABSTRACT: Honeybees, Apis mellifera, perform exploratory orientation flights before they start foraging in order to become familiar with the terrain. To reveal the structure of consecutive orientation flights and hence gain insight into exploratory behaviour, we monitored individual bees from their first flight onwards using harmonic radar technology for flight tracking. We categorized flights into short- and long-range orientation flights. (1) Short-range flights are likely to be related to learning the specific features of the hive's immediate surroundings, and were performed significantly more frequently under unfavourable weather conditions. (2) The duration of long-range orientation flights declined from the first to the fourth flight because the bees spent less time inspecting the immediate surroundings of the hive. (3) Parts of single orientation flights were guided by extended parallel landscape structures on the ground. (4) During consecutive orientation flights bees explored novel sectors of the terrain. (5) Foraging flights performed after orientation flights covered greater distances and may involve a sector of the terrain not explored before, indicating that the acquired visual information plus path integration is sufficient for successful homing even from unfamiliar areas. (6) Exploration may be mixed with foraging flights after the initial orientation flights, sometimes leading to extremely long and elaborate flights. The latter are interpreted as being performed by scout bees. The results are interpreted within the frame of the psychology of exploratory behaviour in animals.
    Animal Behaviour 04/2015; 102. DOI:10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.12.030 · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    • "Bioinformatic functional analysis of these differentially expressed genes implicated several neurotransmitter systems in the propensity to scout, including catecholamine, glutamate and GABA signalling. Authors used this information to conduct pharmacological experiments that established causal connections between these neurotransmitter systems and scouting behaviour, providing a means to manipulate the probability that an individual will behave as a scout (Liang et al., 2012). This study did not explicitly address the adaptive significance of scouting behaviour, but it is possible to imagine that such studies would benefit from the ability to manipulate the level of scouting within a colony. "
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    ABSTRACT: Researchers studying the adaptive significance of behaviour typically assume that genetic mechanisms will not inhibit evolutionary trajectories, an assumption commonly known as the 'phenotypic gambit'. Although the phenotypic gambit continues to be a useful heuristic for behavioural ecology, here we discuss how genomic methods provide new tools and conceptual approaches that are relevant to behavioural ecology. We first describe how the concept of a genetic toolkit for behaviour can allow behavioural ecologists to synthesize both genomic and ecological information when assessing behavioural adaptation. Then we show how gene expression profiles can be viewed as complex phenotypic measurements, used to (1) predict behaviour, (2) evaluate phenotypic plasticity and (3) devise methods to manipulate behaviour in order to test adaptive hypotheses. We propose that advances in genomics and bioinformatics may allow researchers to overcome some of the logistical obstacles that motivated the inception of the phenotypic gambit. Behavioural ecology and genomics are mutually informative, providing potential synergy that could lead to powerful advances in the field of animal behaviour.
    Animal Behaviour 06/2014; 92:263-270. DOI:10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.02.028 · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    • "Specifically, most of MRJPs and Rps were consistently identified as up-regulated in nurses compared to foragers [11], [31]. Genes for odorant-binding proteins (OBPs), alpha-glucosidase (Hbg3), sodium channel protein paralytic (Para), blue-sensitive opsin (BLOP), the detoxification-associated genes (CYP6AS4 and CYP9Q1) and inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate kinase (IP3K), and genes involved in the insulin/insulin-like signaling pathways (IIS), mTOR signaling pathway and PPAR pathway were found to be significantly more highly expressed in foragers than nurses in this and earlier studies [11], [32]–[39]. These results show that DGE analysis can yield reasonably repeatable findings across different studies. "
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    ABSTRACT: The honey bee has a well-organized system of division of labour among workers. Workers typically progress through a series of discrete behavioural castes as they age, and this has become an important case study for exploring how dynamic changes in gene expression can influence behaviour. Here we applied both digital gene expression analysis and methyl DNA immunoprecipitation analysis to nurse, forager and reverted nurse bees (nurses that have returned to the nursing state after a period spent foraging) from the same colony in order to compare the outcomes of these different forms of genomic analysis. A total of 874 and 710 significantly differentially expressed genes were identified in forager/nurse and reverted nurse/forager comparisons respectively. Of these, 229 genes exhibited reversed directions of gene expression differences between the forager/nurse and reverted nurse/forager comparisons. Using methyl-DNA immunoprecipitation combined with high-throughput sequencing (MeDIP-seq) we identified 366 and 442 significantly differentially methylated genes in forager/nurse and reverted nurse/forager comparisons respectively. Of these, 165 genes were identified as differentially methylated in both comparisons. However, very few genes were identified as both differentially expressed and differentially methylated in our comparisons of nurses and foragers. These findings confirm that changes in both gene expression and DNA methylation are involved in the nurse and forager behavioural castes, but the different analytical methods reveal quite distinct sets of candidate genes.
    PLoS ONE 09/2013; 8(9):e73628. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0073628 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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