Peripheral modulation of worker bee responses to queen mandibular pheromone.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 8; 106(49):20930-5
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This paper explores the differential effect that Queen Mandibular Pheromone (QMP) produced by honey bee queens exerts on worker bees of different ages within the hive. It shows that, while young (2-day old bees) exposed from the beginning to QMP are attracted by the pheromone (and thus by the queen, whom they tend and feed), older bees, which become foragers (> 1 week old), are repelled by the pheromone. This difference accounts well for the breaking of the bond between queen and worker-daughters, which move to external tasks, like foraging outside the hive, when they become older.
The authors then found that expression of a specific octopamine receptor gene, Amoa1, and of a dopamine receptor, Amdop3, were significantly higher in young bees attracted to QMP. The latter inhibits expression of another dopamine receptor, Amdop1, known for signaling aversive experiences in the bee brain. While the increase in octopamine signaling, known for mediating appetitive reinforcement properties in insects, may enhance the attractiveness of QMP, the decrease of Amdop1 may decrease aversive experiences close to QMP and, so, to the queen, thus turning her in the "best possible world" when bees are young. This work, thus, offers new insights into the mechanisms of sociality in a honey bee colony. It shows that a subtle interplay exists between QMP and the expression of octopamine and dopamine receptors, at least at the antennal level, which may account for the strong bonds between young bees and queen and for the loss of such bonds when bees become older.
Giurfa M: F1000Prime Recommendation of [Vergoz V et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2009, 106(49):20930-5]. In F1000Prime, 18 Jun 2012; DOI: 10.3410/f.716847804.792152800. F1000Prime.com/716847804#eval792152800
F1000Prime Recommendations, Dissents and Comments for [Vergoz V et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2009, 106(49):20930-5]. In F1000Prime, 18 Jun 2013; F1000Prime.com/716847804
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It is generally accepted that young worker bees (Apis mellifera L.) are highly attracted to queen mandibular pheromone (QMP). Our results challenge this widely held view. We have found that unless young workers are exposed to QMP early in adult life, they, like foragers, avoid contact with this pheromone. Our data indicate that responses to QMP are regulated peripherally, at the level of the antennal sensory neurons, and that a window of opportunity exists in which QMP can alter a young bee's response to this critically important pheromone. Exposing young bees to QMP from the time of adult emergence reduces expression in the antennae of the D1-like dopamine receptor gene, Amdop1. Levels of Amdop3 transcript, on the other hand, and of the octopamine receptor gene Amoa1, are significantly higher in the antennae of bees strongly attracted to QMP than in bees showing no attraction to this pheromone. A decline in QMP attraction with age is accompanied by a fall in expression in worker antennae of the D2-like dopamine receptor, AmDOP3, a receptor that is selectively activated by QMP. Taken together, our findings suggest that QMP's actions peripherally not only suppress avoidance behavior, but also enhance attraction to QMP, thereby facilitating attendance of the queen.
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