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The influence of gustatory and olfactory experiences on responsiveness to reward in the honeybee.

Ramírez GP, Martínez AS, Fernández VM, Corti Bielsa G, Farina WM - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bottom Line: This adjustment is generally associated with the fact that individuals of different ages display different response thresholds to given stimuli, which determine specific behaviors.In contrast no differences in worker responses were observed when presented with odor only in the rearing environment.This work demonstrates the accessibility of chemosensory information in the honeybee colonies with respect to incoming nectar.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Grupo de Estudio de Insectos Sociales, Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Experimental, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, IFIBYNE-CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

ABSTRACT

Background: Honeybees (Apis mellifera) exhibit an extraordinarily tuned division of labor that depends on age polyethism. This adjustment is generally associated with the fact that individuals of different ages display different response thresholds to given stimuli, which determine specific behaviors. For instance, the sucrose-response threshold (SRT) which largely depends on genetic factors may also be affected by the nectar sugar content. However, it remains unknown whether SRTs in workers of different ages and tasks can differ depending on gustatory and olfactory experiences.

Methodology: Groups of worker bees reared either in an artificial environment or else in a queen-right colony, were exposed to different reward conditions at different adult ages. Gustatory response scores (GRSs) and odor-memory retrieval were measured in bees that were previously exposed to changes in food characteristics.

Principal findings: Results show that the gustatory responses of pre-foraging-aged bees are affected by changes in sucrose solution concentration and also to the presence of an odor provided it is presented as scented sucrose solution. In contrast no differences in worker responses were observed when presented with odor only in the rearing environment. Fast modulation of GRSs was observed in older bees (12-16 days of age) which are commonly involved in food processing tasks within the hive, while slower modulation times were observed in younger bees (commonly nurse bees, 6-9 days of age). This suggests that older food-processing bees have a higher plasticity when responding to fluctuations in resource information than younger hive bees. Adjustments in the number of trophallaxis events were also found when scented food circulated inside the nest, and this was positively correlated with the differences in timing observed in gustatory responsiveness and memory retention for hive bees of different age classes.

Conclusions: This work demonstrates the accessibility of chemosensory information in the honeybee colonies with respect to incoming nectar. The modulation of the sensory-response systems within the hive can have important effects on the dynamics of food transfer and information propagation.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Gustatory responsiveness of free-flying bees after exposure to scented sucrose solution.GRSs of hive bees (bees of 6/9 days old, 12/16 days old and foragers were pooled) were measured while being offered a scented sucrose solution (LIO, 15% w/w). We compared the GRSs of hive bees which extended their proboscis to the first presentation of the sucrose solution odor (LIO) against the other hive bees which did not respond in this way. The asterisks indicate statistical differences in a Kruskal-Wallis test (** p<0.01; for details see the text). The number of observations is shown in parentheses. Boxes indicate the inter-quartile range, horizontal lines within boxes indicate the medians, whiskers include all points within 1.5 times the inter-quartiles, empty circles indicate outliers.
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pone-0013498-g008: Gustatory responsiveness of free-flying bees after exposure to scented sucrose solution.GRSs of hive bees (bees of 6/9 days old, 12/16 days old and foragers were pooled) were measured while being offered a scented sucrose solution (LIO, 15% w/w). We compared the GRSs of hive bees which extended their proboscis to the first presentation of the sucrose solution odor (LIO) against the other hive bees which did not respond in this way. The asterisks indicate statistical differences in a Kruskal-Wallis test (** p<0.01; for details see the text). The number of observations is shown in parentheses. Boxes indicate the inter-quartile range, horizontal lines within boxes indicate the medians, whiskers include all points within 1.5 times the inter-quartiles, empty circles indicate outliers.

Mentions: Within the group of bees exposed to scented sucrose solution in their hive, we compared the GRSs of those bees which exhibited a PER to the food odor and those which did not respond (i.e. those which only performed the unconditioned response (UR) to sucrose). Significantly higher GRSs were found for those hive bees that extended their proboscis in response to LIO (Mann-Whitney test, U = 2454, p = 0.002. Bees exhibiting PER, n = 42; bees not exhibiting PER, n = 167; Fig. 8).


The influence of gustatory and olfactory experiences on responsiveness to reward in the honeybee.

Ramírez GP, Martínez AS, Fernández VM, Corti Bielsa G, Farina WM - PLoS ONE (2010)

Gustatory responsiveness of free-flying bees after exposure to scented sucrose solution.GRSs of hive bees (bees of 6/9 days old, 12/16 days old and foragers were pooled) were measured while being offered a scented sucrose solution (LIO, 15% w/w). We compared the GRSs of hive bees which extended their proboscis to the first presentation of the sucrose solution odor (LIO) against the other hive bees which did not respond in this way. The asterisks indicate statistical differences in a Kruskal-Wallis test (** p<0.01; for details see the text). The number of observations is shown in parentheses. Boxes indicate the inter-quartile range, horizontal lines within boxes indicate the medians, whiskers include all points within 1.5 times the inter-quartiles, empty circles indicate outliers.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2958144&req=5

pone-0013498-g008: Gustatory responsiveness of free-flying bees after exposure to scented sucrose solution.GRSs of hive bees (bees of 6/9 days old, 12/16 days old and foragers were pooled) were measured while being offered a scented sucrose solution (LIO, 15% w/w). We compared the GRSs of hive bees which extended their proboscis to the first presentation of the sucrose solution odor (LIO) against the other hive bees which did not respond in this way. The asterisks indicate statistical differences in a Kruskal-Wallis test (** p<0.01; for details see the text). The number of observations is shown in parentheses. Boxes indicate the inter-quartile range, horizontal lines within boxes indicate the medians, whiskers include all points within 1.5 times the inter-quartiles, empty circles indicate outliers.
Mentions: Within the group of bees exposed to scented sucrose solution in their hive, we compared the GRSs of those bees which exhibited a PER to the food odor and those which did not respond (i.e. those which only performed the unconditioned response (UR) to sucrose). Significantly higher GRSs were found for those hive bees that extended their proboscis in response to LIO (Mann-Whitney test, U = 2454, p = 0.002. Bees exhibiting PER, n = 42; bees not exhibiting PER, n = 167; Fig. 8).

Bottom Line: This adjustment is generally associated with the fact that individuals of different ages display different response thresholds to given stimuli, which determine specific behaviors.In contrast no differences in worker responses were observed when presented with odor only in the rearing environment.This work demonstrates the accessibility of chemosensory information in the honeybee colonies with respect to incoming nectar.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Grupo de Estudio de Insectos Sociales, Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Experimental, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, IFIBYNE-CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

ABSTRACT

Background: Honeybees (Apis mellifera) exhibit an extraordinarily tuned division of labor that depends on age polyethism. This adjustment is generally associated with the fact that individuals of different ages display different response thresholds to given stimuli, which determine specific behaviors. For instance, the sucrose-response threshold (SRT) which largely depends on genetic factors may also be affected by the nectar sugar content. However, it remains unknown whether SRTs in workers of different ages and tasks can differ depending on gustatory and olfactory experiences.

Methodology: Groups of worker bees reared either in an artificial environment or else in a queen-right colony, were exposed to different reward conditions at different adult ages. Gustatory response scores (GRSs) and odor-memory retrieval were measured in bees that were previously exposed to changes in food characteristics.

Principal findings: Results show that the gustatory responses of pre-foraging-aged bees are affected by changes in sucrose solution concentration and also to the presence of an odor provided it is presented as scented sucrose solution. In contrast no differences in worker responses were observed when presented with odor only in the rearing environment. Fast modulation of GRSs was observed in older bees (12-16 days of age) which are commonly involved in food processing tasks within the hive, while slower modulation times were observed in younger bees (commonly nurse bees, 6-9 days of age). This suggests that older food-processing bees have a higher plasticity when responding to fluctuations in resource information than younger hive bees. Adjustments in the number of trophallaxis events were also found when scented food circulated inside the nest, and this was positively correlated with the differences in timing observed in gustatory responsiveness and memory retention for hive bees of different age classes.

Conclusions: This work demonstrates the accessibility of chemosensory information in the honeybee colonies with respect to incoming nectar. The modulation of the sensory-response systems within the hive can have important effects on the dynamics of food transfer and information propagation.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus