Matching Items (4)

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Effects of Odorant-environment Complexity on Behavioral and Neural Plasticity at Different Time Scales

Description

The ability to detect and appropriately respond to chemical stimuli is important for many organisms, ranging from bacteria to multicellular animals. Responses to these stimuli can be plastic over multiple

The ability to detect and appropriately respond to chemical stimuli is important for many organisms, ranging from bacteria to multicellular animals. Responses to these stimuli can be plastic over multiple time scales. In the short-term, the synaptic strengths of neurons embedded in neural circuits can be modified and result in various forms of learning. In the long-term, the overall developmental trajectory of the olfactory network can be altered and synaptic strengths can be modified on a broad scale as a direct result of long-term (chronic) stimulus experience. Over evolutionary time the olfactory system can impose selection pressures that affect the odorants used in communication networks. On short time scales, I measured the effects of repeated alarm pheromone exposure on the colony-level defense behaviors in a social bee. I found that the responses to the alarm pheromone were plastic. This suggests that there may be mechanisms that affect individual plasticity to pheromones and regulate how these individuals act in groups to coordinate nest defense. On longer time scales, I measured the behavioral and neural affects of bees given a single chronic odor experience versus bees that had a natural, more diverse olfactory experience. The central brains of bees with a deprived odor experience responded more similarly to odorants in imaging studies, and did not develop a fully mature olfactory network. Additionally, these immature networks showed behavioral deficits when recalling odor mixture components. Over evolutionary time, signals need to engage the attention of and be easily recognized by bees. I measured responses of bees to a floral mixture and its constituent monomolecular components. I found that natural floral mixtures engage the orientation of bees’ antennae more strongly than single-component odorants and also provide more consistent central brain responses between stimulations. Together, these studies highlight the importance of olfactory experience on different scales and how the nervous system might impose pressures to select the stimuli used as signals in communication networks.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Decoding brood pheromone: the releaser and primer effects of young and old larvae on honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers

Description

How a colony regulates the division of labor to forage for nutritional resources while accommodating for changes in colony demography is a fundamental question in the sociobiology of social insects.

How a colony regulates the division of labor to forage for nutritional resources while accommodating for changes in colony demography is a fundamental question in the sociobiology of social insects. In honey bee, Apis mellifera, brood composition impacts the division of labor, but it is unknown if colonies adjust the allocation of foragers to carbohydrate and protein resources based on changes in the age demography of larvae and the pheromones they produce. Young and old larvae produce pheromones that differ in composition and volatility. In turn, nurses differentially provision larvae, feeding developing young worker larvae a surplus diet that is more queen-like in protein composition and food availability, while old larvae receive a diet that mimics the sugar composition of the queen larval diet but is restrictively fed instead of provided ad lib. This research investigated how larval age and the larval pheromone e-β ocimene (eβ) impact foraging activity and foraging load. Additional cage studies were conducted to determine if eβ interacts synergistically with queen mandibular pheromone (QMP) to suppress ovary activation and prime worker physiology for nursing behavior. Lastly, the priming effects of larval age and eβ on worker physiology and the transition from in-hive nursing tasks to outside foraging were examined. Results indicate that workers differentially respond to larvae of different ages, likely by detecting changes in the composition of the pheromones they emit. This resulted in adjustments to the foraging division of labor (pollen vs. nectar) to ensure that the nutritional needs of the colony's brood were met. For younger larvae and eβ, this resulted in a bias favoring pollen collection. The cage studies reveal that both eβ and QMP suppressed ovary activation, but the larval pheromone was more effective. Maturing in an environment of young or old larvae primed bees for nursing and impacted important endocrine titers involved in the transition to foraging, so bees maturing in the presence of larvae foraged earlier than control bees reared with no brood.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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

Description

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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Date Created
  • 2017

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Ontogeny of the pupal salivary, hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands and the role of apoptosis during metamorphosis in Apis mellifera

Description

Amongst the most studied of the social insects, the honey bee has a prominent place due to its economic importance and influence on human societies. Honey bee colonies can have

Amongst the most studied of the social insects, the honey bee has a prominent place due to its economic importance and influence on human societies. Honey bee colonies can have over 50,000 individuals, whose activities are coordinated by chemical signals called pheromones. Because these pheromones are secreted from various exocrine glands, the proper development and function of these glands are vital to colony dynamics. In this thesis, I present a study of the developmental ontogeny of the exocrine glands found in the head of the honey bee. In Chapter 2, I elucidate how the larval salivary gland transitions to an adult salivary gland through apoptosis and cell growth, differentiation and migration. I also explain the development of the hypopharyngeal and the mandibular gland using apoptotic markers and cytoskeletal markers like tubulin and actin. I explain the fundamental developmental plan for the formation of the glands and show that apoptosis plays an important role in the transformation toward an adult gland.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018