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Associative Recognition of Odor Stimuli Variance and a Proposal to Test This in Odor Experience Restricted Honey Bees

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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

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.

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  • 2017-05

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The effect of Pristine fungicide on honey bee (Apis mellifera) taste and responsiveness to sucrose

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Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies have experienced substantial losses due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) since the first officially reported cases in 2006. Many factors have been implicated in CCD,

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies have experienced substantial losses due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) since the first officially reported cases in 2006. Many factors have been implicated in CCD, including pests, pathogens, malnutrition, and pesticide use, but no correlation has been found between a single factor and the occurrence of CCD. Fungicides have received less research attention compared to insecticides, despite the fact that fungicide application coincides with bloom and the presence of bees. Pristine fungicide is widely used in agriculture and is commonly found as a residue in hives. Several studies have concluded that Pristine can be used without harming bees, but reports of brood loss following Pristine application continue to surface across the country. The primary objectives of this study were to determine whether Pristine causes an aversive gustatory response in bees and whether consumption of an acute dose affects responsiveness to sucrose. An awareness of how foragers interact with contaminated food is useful to understand the likelihood that Pristine is ingested and how that may affect bees' ability to evaluate floral resources. Our results indicated that Pristine has no significant effect on gustatory response or sucrose responsiveness. There was no significant difference between bee responses to Pristine contaminated sucrose and sucrose alone, and no significant effect of Pristine on sucrose responsiveness. These results indicate that honey bees do not have a gustatory aversion to Pristine. A lack of aversion means that honey bees will continue collecting contaminated resources and dispersing them throughout the colony where it can affect brood and clean food stores.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

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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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  • 2018