Cooperative defence operates by social modulation of biogenic amine levels in the honey bee brain

Morgane Nouvian*, Souvik Mandal, Charlène Jamme, Charles Claudianos, Patrizia D’Ettorre, Judith Reinhard, Andrew B. Barron, Martin Giurfa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The defence of a society often requires that some specialized members coordinate to repel a threat at personal risk. This is especially true for honey bee guards, which defend the hive and may sacrifice their lives upon stinging. Central to this cooperative defensive response is the sting alarm pheromone, which has isoamyl acetate (IAA) as its main component. Although this defensive behaviour has been well described, the neural mechanisms triggered by IAA to coordinate stinging have long remained unknown. Here we show that IAA upregulates brain levels of serotonin and dopamine, thereby increasing the likelihood of an individual bee to attack and sting. Pharmacological enhancement of the levels of both amines induces higher defensive responsiveness, while decreasing them via antagonists decreases stinging. Our results thus uncover the neural mechanism by which an alarm pheromone recruits individuals to attack and repel a threat, and suggest that the alarm pheromone of honey bees acts on their response threshold rather than as a direct trigger.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20172653
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume285
Issue number1871
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • honey bee
  • defence
  • alarm pheromone
  • serotonin
  • dopamine

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Cooperative defence operates by social modulation of biogenic amine levels in the honey bee brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this