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The Sensory Basis of Olfactory Detection in the Dampwood Termite, Zootermopsis Nevadensis

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ABSTRACT Communication is vital in the context of everyday life for all organisms, but particularly so in social insects, such as Z. nevadensis. The overall lifestyle and need for altruistic acts of individuals within a colony depends primarily on intracolony

ABSTRACT Communication is vital in the context of everyday life for all organisms, but particularly so in social insects, such as Z. nevadensis. The overall lifestyle and need for altruistic acts of individuals within a colony depends primarily on intracolony chemical communication, with a focus on odorants. The perception of these odorants is made possible by the chemoreceptive functions of sensilla basiconica and sensilla trichoid which exist on the antennal structure. The present study consists of both a morphological analysis and electrophysiological experiment concerning sensilla basiconica. It attempts to characterize the function of neurons present in sensilla basiconica through single sensillum recordings and contributes to existing literature by determining if a social insect, such as the dampwood termite, is able to perceive a wide spectrum of odorants despite having significantly fewer olfactory receptors than most other social insect species. Results indicated that sensilla basiconica presence significantly out-paced that of sensilla trichoid and sensilla chaetica combined, on all flagellomeres. Analysis demonstrated significant responses to all general odorants and several cuticular hydrocarbons. Combined with the knowledge of fewer olfactory receptors present in this species and their lifestyle, results may indicate a positive association between the the social complexity of an insect's lifestyle and the number of ORs the individuals within that colony possess.

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2015-05

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The Effect of Antennae Movement Restriction on Odor Discrimination in Honeybees (Apis Mellifera)

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Honeybees require the use of their antennae to perceive different scents and pheromones, communicate with other members of the colony, and even detect wind vibrations, sound waves, and carbon dioxide levels. Limiting and/or removing this sense makes bees much less

Honeybees require the use of their antennae to perceive different scents and pheromones, communicate with other members of the colony, and even detect wind vibrations, sound waves, and carbon dioxide levels. Limiting and/or removing this sense makes bees much less effective at acquiring information. However, how antennal movements might be important for olfaction has not been studied in detail. The focus of this work was to evaluate how restriction of antennae movements might affect a bee’s ability to detect and perceive odors. Bees were made to learn a certain odor and were then split up into a control group, a treatment group that had their antennae fixed with eicosane, and a sham treatment group that had a dot of eicosane on their heads in such a way that it would not affect antennae movements but still add the same amount of weight. Following a period of acclimation, the bees were tested with the conditioned odor, one that was perceptually similar to it, and to a dissimilar odor. Using proboscis-extension duration and latency as response measures, it became clear that both antenna fixation and sham treatments affected the conditioned behavior. However, these treatment effects did not reach statistical significance. Briefly, both fixation of antennae as well as the sham treatment reduced the discriminability of the conditioned and similar odors. Although more data can be collected to more fully evaluate the significance of the treatments, the behavior of the sham group could indicate that mechanoreceptive hairs on the head play an important role in olfaction. It is also possible that there are other factors at play, possibly induced by the fixed bees’ increased stress levels.

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2021