Honey bee workers care for ("nurse") the brood around the clock without circadian rhythmicity, but then they forage outside with strong circadian rhythms and a consolidated nightly rest. This chronobiological plasticity is associated with variation in the expression of the canonical "clock genes" that regulate the circadian clock: nurse bees show no brain rhythms of expression, while foragers do. These results suggest that the circadian system is organized differently in nurses and foragers. Nur ...[more]
Project description:We analyzed the changes in brain gene expression after alarm pheromone exposure. Bees from single-drone inseminated colonies were exposed to alarm pheromone at the hive entrance and collected 1h after exposure for analysis.
Project description:Responses to social cues, such as pheromones, can be modified by genotype, physiology, or environmental context. Honey bee queens produce a pheromone (queen mandibular pheromone; QMP) which regulates many aspects of worker bee behavior and physiology. Forager honey bees are less responsive to QMP than young nurse bees engaged in brood care, suggesting that physiological changes associated with behavioral maturation may modulate response to this pheromone. Since cGMP is a major regulator of behavioral maturation in honey bee workers, we examined its role in modulating worker responses to QMP. Treatment with a cGMP analog, 8-Br-cGMP, resulted in significant reductions in both behavioral and physiological responses to QMP in young caged workers. Treatment significantly reduced attraction to QMP (the retinue response) and inhibited the QMP-mediated increase in vitellogenin levels in the fat bodies of worker bees. Genome-wide analysis of brain gene expression patterns demonstrated that cGMP has a larger effect on expression levels than QMP, and that QMP has specific effects in the presence of cGMP, suggesting that some responses to QMP may be dependent on an individual bees physiological state. Several functional gene categories were significantly differentially expressed, including genes involved in regulating GTPase activity, phototransduction, immunity, and carboxylic acid transmembrane transporter activity. Overall, our data suggest that cGMP-mediated processes play a large role in modulating responses to queen pheromone in honey bees, at the behavioral, physiological and molecular levels.