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The role of the biogenic amine tyramine in latent inhibition learning in the honey bee, Apis mellifera

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Animals must learn to ignore stimuli that are irrelevant to survival, which is a process referred to as ‘latent inhibition’. This process has been shown to be genetically heritable (Latshaw

Animals must learn to ignore stimuli that are irrelevant to survival, which is a process referred to as ‘latent inhibition’. This process has been shown to be genetically heritable (Latshaw JS, Mazade R, Sinakevitch I, Mustard JA, Gadau J, Smith BH (submitted)). The locus containing the AmTYR1 gene has been shown through quantitative trait loci mapping to be linked to strong latent inhibition in honey bees. The Smith lab has been able to show a correlation between learning and the AmTYR1 receptor gene through pharmacological inhibition of the receptor. In order to further confirm this finding, experiments were designed to test how honey bees learn with this receptor knocked out. Here this G-protein coupled receptor for the biogenic amine tyramine is implemented as an important factor underlying latent inhibition in honey bees. It is shown that double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and Dicer-substrate small interfering RNA (dsiRNA) that are targeted to disrupt the tyramine receptors specifically affects latent inhibition but not excitatory associative conditioning. The results therefore identify a distinct reinforcement pathway for latent inhibition in insects.

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  • 2017

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Calcium-mediated excitation and plasticity in primary olfactory pathways of the honey bee antennal lobe

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Spatiotemporal processing in the mammalian olfactory bulb (OB), and its analog, the invertebrate antennal lobe (AL), is subject to plasticity driven by biogenic amines. I study plasticity using honey bees,

Spatiotemporal processing in the mammalian olfactory bulb (OB), and its analog, the invertebrate antennal lobe (AL), is subject to plasticity driven by biogenic amines. I study plasticity using honey bees, which have been extensively studied with respect to nonassociative and associative based olfactory learning and memory. Octopamine (OA) release in the AL is the functional analog to epinephrine in the OB. Blockade of OA receptors in the AL blocks plasticity induced changes in behavior. I have now begun to test specific hypotheses related to how this biogenic amine might be involved in plasticity in neural circuits within the AL. OA acts via different receptor subtypes, AmOA1, which gates calcium release from intracellular stores, and AmOA-beta, which results in an increase of cAMP. Calcium also enters AL interneurons via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which are driven by acetylcholine release from sensory neuron terminals, as well as through voltage-gated calcium channels. I employ 2-photon excitation (2PE) microscopy using fluorescent calcium indicators to investigate potential sources of plasticity as revealed by calcium fluctuations in AL projection neuron (PN) dendrites in vivo. PNs are analogous to mitral cells in the OB and have dendritic processes that show calcium increases in response to odor stimulation. These calcium signals frequently change after association of odor with appetitive reinforcement. However, it is unclear whether the reported plasticity in calcium signals are due to changes intrinsic to the PNs or to changes in other neural components of the network. My studies were aimed toward understanding the role of OA for establishing associative plasticity in the AL network. Accordingly, I developed a treatment that isolates intact, functioning PNs in vivo. A second study revealed that cAMP is a likely component of plasticity in the AL, thus implicating the AmOA-beta; receptors. Finally, I developed a method for loading calcium indicators into neural components of the AL that have yet to be studied in detail. These manipulations are now revealing the molecular mechanisms contributing to associative plasticity in the AL. These studies will allow for a greater understanding of plasticity in several neural components of the honey bee AL and mammalian OB.

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  • 2014

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Modulation of sensing and sharing food-related information in the honey bee

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Food is an essential driver of animal behavior. For social organisms, the acquisition of food guides interactions with the environment and with group-mates. Studies have focused on how social individuals

Food is an essential driver of animal behavior. For social organisms, the acquisition of food guides interactions with the environment and with group-mates. Studies have focused on how social individuals find and choose food sources, and share both food and information with group-mates. However, it is often not clear how experiences throughout an individual's life influence such interactions. The core question of this thesis is how individuals’ experience contributes to within-caste behavioral variation in a social group. I investigate the effects of individual history, including physical injury and food-related experience, on individuals' social food sharing behavior, responses to food-related stimuli, and the associated neural biogenic amine signaling pathways. I use the eusocial honey bee (Apis mellifera) system, one in which individuals exhibit a high degree of plasticity in responses to environmental stimuli and there is a richness of communicatory pathways for food-related information. Foraging exposes honey bees to aversive experiences such as predation, con-specific competition, and environmental toxins. I show that foraging experience changes individuals' response thresholds to sucrose, a main component of adults’ diets, depending on whether foraging conditions are benign or aversive. Bodily injury is demonstrated to reduce individuals' appetitive responses to new, potentially food-predictive odors. Aversive conditions also impact an individual's social food sharing behavior; mouth-to-mouse trophallaxis with particular groupmates is modulated by aversive foraging conditions both for foragers who directly experienced these conditions and non-foragers who were influenced via social contact with foragers. Although the mechanisms underlying these behavioral changes have yet to be resolved, my results implicate biogenic amine signaling pathways as a potential component. Serotonin and octopamine concentrations are shown to undergo long-term change due to distinct foraging experiences. My work serves to highlight the malleability of a social individual's food-related behavior, suggesting that environmental conditions shape how individuals respond to food and share information with group-mates. This thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of inter-individual variation in animal behavior.

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  • 2017