DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Regulation of Social Foraging in the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

    Project: Research project


    Intellectual merit: The evolution of social behavior is one of the central questions in biology. In recent years the honey bee has become a model organism for the study of sociality due to the publication of the genome. We have previously demonstrated that vitellogenin has a regulatory role in the social foraging behavior of honey bee workers. Using RNA interference (RNAi) to knockdown vg expression, we demonstrated that low titers of vg triggered at emergence induce early foraging onset and an increased bias toward nectar collection in worker bees. However, in strains of bees with divergent endocrine sensitivity to vg knockdown, only the sensitive strain responds behaviorally to vg suppression. This finding highlights the complexity of the relationship between vg and behavior. We propose to investigate the molecular network surrounding vg signaling to begin to develop a more in depth understanding of the regulation of social foraging behavior of honey bee workers. In a study currently in progress we will directly test the proposed link between vg, insulin-like signaling (IIS), and behavior by looking at gene expression of vg and components of the IIS pathway in same age nurse and forager bees with and without vg knockdown in the two strains of honey bees with differing endocrine sensitivity to vg knockdown. We seek funding to complete a study that will greatly expand our knowledge of the mechanisms regulating social foraging behavior. Using single nucleotide polymorphisms and the honey bee genome, we will identify genes associated with the endocrine response to vg suppression. This study will provide the first direct link between vg signaling, behavior, and the surrounding molecular network. Broader impacts: Several undergraduate students will be involved in the completion of this project. They will be drawn from the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research (SOLUR) program, and the School of Life Sciences. These students will be mentored and trained in scientific research methods and encouraged to present their results at professional conferences. Mentoring the undergraduate researchers will also provide the Co-PI with valuable management and teaching experience. In addition to publication in scientific journals, the results of this study may be presented to the general public through ASU publications, websites, and outreach to the surrounding community.@
    Effective start/end date7/1/0912/31/10


    • NSF-BIO: Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS): $13,300.00


    Apis mellifera
    honey bees
    college students
    worker honey bees
    worker bees
    research methods
    research programs
    RNA interference
    social behavior
    single nucleotide polymorphism