Dissertation Research: Sociogenomics of pheromone response and reproductive traits in worker honey bees

Project: Research project

Project Details


Elucidating the mechanistic bases of natural variation in ecologically relevant behavior is a fundamental component of many disciplines ranging from neuroethology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology and behavioral genetics. This proposal seeks to understand the genetic, physiological, and developmental variation underlying chemical communication. In honey bees, social interactions are modulated by pheromonal signaling. The queen produces a pheromone that inhibits worker ovary development and attracts workers to lick, antennate, and feed her. Previous work has demonstrated that there is significant variation in pheromone response, however, very little research has focused on understanding the molecular and physiological processes that might mediate responsiveness to pheromones. Natural variation in responsiveness to queen pheromone is robust and widespread, and is linked to global differences in gene expression patterns in the brains of honey bee workers. Furthermore, this variation is associated with genotypic, physiological and developmental differences. This proposal will characterize the molecular mechanisms and pathways in worker honey bees that produce natural variation in behavioral responses to queen pheromone by using a combination of molecular and quantitative genetic approaches to expand our understanding of these processes. This project will provide training in quantitative genetics for a graduate student and several undergraduates. These studies will improve understanding of the physiological, developmental, molecular and genotypic factors that modulate chemical communication, with an ultimate goal of understanding how different combinations of factors (genetic, physiological, and environmental) influence life history traits.

Effective start/end date8/1/097/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $15,000.00


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