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Science 317 (5836): 384-386

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Queen Pheromone Blocks Aversive Learning in Young Worker Bees

Vanina Vergoz, Haley A. Schreurs, Alison R. Mercer*

Abstract: Queen mandibular pheromone (QMP) has profound effects on dopamine signaling in the brain of young worker honey bees. As dopamine in insects has been strongly implicated in aversive learning, we examined QMP's impact on associative olfactory learning in bees. We found that QMP blocks aversive learning in young workers, but leaves appetitive learning intact. We postulate that QMP's effects on aversive learning enhance the likelihood that young workers remain in close contact with their queen by preventing them from forming an aversion to their mother's pheromone bouquet. The results provide an interesting twist to a story of success and survival.

Department of Zoology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: alison.mercer{at}stonebow.otago.ac.nz


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