Sensory response system of social behavior tied to female reproductive traits

Jennifer M. Tsuruda, Gro Amdam, Robert Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Honey bees display a complex set of anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits that correlate with the colony storage of surplus pollen (pollen hoarding). We hypothesize that the association of these traits is a result of pleiotropy in a gene signaling network that was co-opted by natural selection to function in worker division of labor and foraging specialization. By acting on the gene network, selection can change a suite of traits, including stimulus/ response relationships that affect individual foraging behavior and alter the colony level trait of pollen hoarding. The 'pollen-hoarding syndrome' of honey bees is the best documented syndrome of insect social organization. It can be exemplified as a link between reproductive anatomy (ovary size), physiology (yolk protein level), and foraging behavior in honey bee strains selected for pollen hoarding, a colony level trait. The syndrome gave rise to the forager-Reproductive Ground Plan Hypothesis (RGPH), which proposes that the regulatory control of foraging onset and foraging preference toward nectar or pollen was derived from a reproductive signaling network. This view was recently challenged. To resolve the controversy, we tested the associations between reproductive anatomy, physiology, and stimulus/response relationships of behavior in wild-type honey bees. Methodology/Principal Findings: Central to the stimulus/response relationships of honey bee foraging behavior and pollen hoarding is the behavioral trait of sensory sensitivity to sucrose (an important sugar in nectar). To test the linkage of reproductive traits and sensory response systems of social behavior, we measured sucrose responsiveness with the proboscis extension response (PER) assay and quantified ovary size and vitellogenin (yolk precursor) gene expression in 6-7-day-old bees by counting ovarioles (ovary filaments) and by using semiquantitative real time RT-PCR. We show that bees with larger ovaries (more ovarioles) are characterized by higher levels of vitellogenin mRNA expression and are more responsive to sucrose solutions, a trait that is central to division of labor and foraging specialization. Conclusions/Significance: Our results establish that in wild-type honey bees, ovary size and vitellogenin mRNA level covary with the sucrose sensory response system, an important component of foraging behavior. This finding validates links between reproductive physiology and behavioral-trait associations of the pollen-hoarding syndrome of honey bees, and supports the forager-RGPH. Our data address a current evolutionary debate, and represent the first direct demonstration of the links between reproductive anatomy, physiology, and behavioral response systems that are central to the control of complex social behavior in insects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3397
JournalPLoS One
Volume3
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 14 2008

Fingerprint

Social Behavior
Bees
Physiology
reproductive traits
social behavior
Vitellogenins
Honey
Pollen
Sucrose
honey bees
foraging
pollen
Plant Nectar
vitellogenin
Genes
Ovary
Personnel
sucrose
Egg Proteins
polyethism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Sensory response system of social behavior tied to female reproductive traits. / Tsuruda, Jennifer M.; Amdam, Gro; Page, Robert.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 3, No. 10, e3397, 14.10.2008.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tsuruda, Jennifer M. ; Amdam, Gro ; Page, Robert. / Sensory response system of social behavior tied to female reproductive traits. In: PLoS One. 2008 ; Vol. 3, No. 10.
@article{adb4a5ca2c1e45699f27d40ea0f6a398,
title = "Sensory response system of social behavior tied to female reproductive traits",
abstract = "Background: Honey bees display a complex set of anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits that correlate with the colony storage of surplus pollen (pollen hoarding). We hypothesize that the association of these traits is a result of pleiotropy in a gene signaling network that was co-opted by natural selection to function in worker division of labor and foraging specialization. By acting on the gene network, selection can change a suite of traits, including stimulus/ response relationships that affect individual foraging behavior and alter the colony level trait of pollen hoarding. The 'pollen-hoarding syndrome' of honey bees is the best documented syndrome of insect social organization. It can be exemplified as a link between reproductive anatomy (ovary size), physiology (yolk protein level), and foraging behavior in honey bee strains selected for pollen hoarding, a colony level trait. The syndrome gave rise to the forager-Reproductive Ground Plan Hypothesis (RGPH), which proposes that the regulatory control of foraging onset and foraging preference toward nectar or pollen was derived from a reproductive signaling network. This view was recently challenged. To resolve the controversy, we tested the associations between reproductive anatomy, physiology, and stimulus/response relationships of behavior in wild-type honey bees. Methodology/Principal Findings: Central to the stimulus/response relationships of honey bee foraging behavior and pollen hoarding is the behavioral trait of sensory sensitivity to sucrose (an important sugar in nectar). To test the linkage of reproductive traits and sensory response systems of social behavior, we measured sucrose responsiveness with the proboscis extension response (PER) assay and quantified ovary size and vitellogenin (yolk precursor) gene expression in 6-7-day-old bees by counting ovarioles (ovary filaments) and by using semiquantitative real time RT-PCR. We show that bees with larger ovaries (more ovarioles) are characterized by higher levels of vitellogenin mRNA expression and are more responsive to sucrose solutions, a trait that is central to division of labor and foraging specialization. Conclusions/Significance: Our results establish that in wild-type honey bees, ovary size and vitellogenin mRNA level covary with the sucrose sensory response system, an important component of foraging behavior. This finding validates links between reproductive physiology and behavioral-trait associations of the pollen-hoarding syndrome of honey bees, and supports the forager-RGPH. Our data address a current evolutionary debate, and represent the first direct demonstration of the links between reproductive anatomy, physiology, and behavioral response systems that are central to the control of complex social behavior in insects.",
author = "Tsuruda, {Jennifer M.} and Gro Amdam and Robert Page",
year = "2008",
month = "10",
day = "14",
doi = "10.1371/journal.pone.0003397",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "3",
journal = "PLoS One",
issn = "1932-6203",
publisher = "Public Library of Science",
number = "10",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Sensory response system of social behavior tied to female reproductive traits

AU - Tsuruda, Jennifer M.

AU - Amdam, Gro

AU - Page, Robert

PY - 2008/10/14

Y1 - 2008/10/14

N2 - Background: Honey bees display a complex set of anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits that correlate with the colony storage of surplus pollen (pollen hoarding). We hypothesize that the association of these traits is a result of pleiotropy in a gene signaling network that was co-opted by natural selection to function in worker division of labor and foraging specialization. By acting on the gene network, selection can change a suite of traits, including stimulus/ response relationships that affect individual foraging behavior and alter the colony level trait of pollen hoarding. The 'pollen-hoarding syndrome' of honey bees is the best documented syndrome of insect social organization. It can be exemplified as a link between reproductive anatomy (ovary size), physiology (yolk protein level), and foraging behavior in honey bee strains selected for pollen hoarding, a colony level trait. The syndrome gave rise to the forager-Reproductive Ground Plan Hypothesis (RGPH), which proposes that the regulatory control of foraging onset and foraging preference toward nectar or pollen was derived from a reproductive signaling network. This view was recently challenged. To resolve the controversy, we tested the associations between reproductive anatomy, physiology, and stimulus/response relationships of behavior in wild-type honey bees. Methodology/Principal Findings: Central to the stimulus/response relationships of honey bee foraging behavior and pollen hoarding is the behavioral trait of sensory sensitivity to sucrose (an important sugar in nectar). To test the linkage of reproductive traits and sensory response systems of social behavior, we measured sucrose responsiveness with the proboscis extension response (PER) assay and quantified ovary size and vitellogenin (yolk precursor) gene expression in 6-7-day-old bees by counting ovarioles (ovary filaments) and by using semiquantitative real time RT-PCR. We show that bees with larger ovaries (more ovarioles) are characterized by higher levels of vitellogenin mRNA expression and are more responsive to sucrose solutions, a trait that is central to division of labor and foraging specialization. Conclusions/Significance: Our results establish that in wild-type honey bees, ovary size and vitellogenin mRNA level covary with the sucrose sensory response system, an important component of foraging behavior. This finding validates links between reproductive physiology and behavioral-trait associations of the pollen-hoarding syndrome of honey bees, and supports the forager-RGPH. Our data address a current evolutionary debate, and represent the first direct demonstration of the links between reproductive anatomy, physiology, and behavioral response systems that are central to the control of complex social behavior in insects.

AB - Background: Honey bees display a complex set of anatomical, physiological, and behavioral traits that correlate with the colony storage of surplus pollen (pollen hoarding). We hypothesize that the association of these traits is a result of pleiotropy in a gene signaling network that was co-opted by natural selection to function in worker division of labor and foraging specialization. By acting on the gene network, selection can change a suite of traits, including stimulus/ response relationships that affect individual foraging behavior and alter the colony level trait of pollen hoarding. The 'pollen-hoarding syndrome' of honey bees is the best documented syndrome of insect social organization. It can be exemplified as a link between reproductive anatomy (ovary size), physiology (yolk protein level), and foraging behavior in honey bee strains selected for pollen hoarding, a colony level trait. The syndrome gave rise to the forager-Reproductive Ground Plan Hypothesis (RGPH), which proposes that the regulatory control of foraging onset and foraging preference toward nectar or pollen was derived from a reproductive signaling network. This view was recently challenged. To resolve the controversy, we tested the associations between reproductive anatomy, physiology, and stimulus/response relationships of behavior in wild-type honey bees. Methodology/Principal Findings: Central to the stimulus/response relationships of honey bee foraging behavior and pollen hoarding is the behavioral trait of sensory sensitivity to sucrose (an important sugar in nectar). To test the linkage of reproductive traits and sensory response systems of social behavior, we measured sucrose responsiveness with the proboscis extension response (PER) assay and quantified ovary size and vitellogenin (yolk precursor) gene expression in 6-7-day-old bees by counting ovarioles (ovary filaments) and by using semiquantitative real time RT-PCR. We show that bees with larger ovaries (more ovarioles) are characterized by higher levels of vitellogenin mRNA expression and are more responsive to sucrose solutions, a trait that is central to division of labor and foraging specialization. Conclusions/Significance: Our results establish that in wild-type honey bees, ovary size and vitellogenin mRNA level covary with the sucrose sensory response system, an important component of foraging behavior. This finding validates links between reproductive physiology and behavioral-trait associations of the pollen-hoarding syndrome of honey bees, and supports the forager-RGPH. Our data address a current evolutionary debate, and represent the first direct demonstration of the links between reproductive anatomy, physiology, and behavioral response systems that are central to the control of complex social behavior in insects.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=54849405343&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=54849405343&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1371/journal.pone.0003397

DO - 10.1371/journal.pone.0003397

M3 - Article

C2 - 18852894

AN - SCOPUS:54849405343

VL - 3

JO - PLoS One

JF - PLoS One

SN - 1932-6203

IS - 10

M1 - e3397

ER -