Age- and behaviour-related changes in the expression of biogenic amine receptor genes in the antennae of honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Henry J. McQuillan, Andrew B. Barron, Alison R. Mercer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We recently identified changes in amine-receptor gene expression in the antennae of the honey bee that correlate with shifts in the behavioural responsiveness of worker bees towards queen mandibular pheromone. Here we examine whether variations in expression of amine-receptor genes are related to age and/or to behavioural state. Colonies with a normal age structure were used to collect bees of different ages, as well as pollen foragers of unknown age. Single- and double-cohort colonies were established also to generate nurses and pollen foragers of the same age. Amdop1 was the only gene examined that showed no significant change in expression levels across the age groups tested. However, expression of this gene was significantly higher in 6-day-old nurses than in pollen foragers of the same age. Levels of expression of Amdop2 were very variable, particularly during the first week of adult life, and showed no correlation with nursing or foraging behaviour. Amdop3 and Amtyr1 expression levels changed dramatically with age. Interestingly, Amtyr1 expression was significantly higher in 15-day-old pollen foragers than in same-age nurses, whereas the opposite was true for Amoa1. While Amoa1 expression in the antennae was lower in 6- and 15-day-old pollen foragers than in nurses of the same age, differences in gene expression levels between nurses and pollen foragers could not be detected in 22-day-old bees. Our data show dynamic modulation of gene expression in the antennae of worker bees and suggest a peripheral role for biogenic amines in regulating behavioural plasticity in the honey bee.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-761
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A
Volume198
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

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