Associative Recognition of Odor Stimuli Variance and a Proposal to Test This in Odor Experience Restricted Honey Bees
Recent data suggests that olfactory input is important for antennal lobe development in honey bees. Chronic association of a single odor to food resources during crucial stages of development results in delayed antennal lobe development for mature foraging bees. The antennal lobes of these bees instead closely resemble an immature network observed in young, newly emerged bees. Using an odor stimuli variance assay, learning and memory tests can be used to explore how well honey bees discriminate single odors within complex odor mixtures. Here we are validating two different odor mixtures, a Brassica rapa floral blend and a second replicate mixture composed of common molecularly dissimilar odors. Odors in each mixture are either held constant or varied in concentration over 16 conditioning trials. Subsequent memory tests are performed two hours later to observe the ability of bees to distinguish and recognize specific odor components in each mixture. So far in our assay we find high rates of generalization for both odor mixtures. In general, more bees responded to all odors in the replicate treatment group over the Brassica treatment group. Additionally, bees in the Brassica treatment group did not respond to the target odor. More data is being collected to validate this assay. In future studies, I propose to apply this behavioral assay to bees with an altered olfactory developmental in order to see the functional impacts of this chronic odor association treatment.