Editors' ChoiceEcology

Bees Get That Caffeine "Buzz"

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Science Signaling  12 Mar 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 266, pp. ec64
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004130

Caffeine improves memory in humans, millions of whom find that their daily dose enhances clarity, focus, and alertness. The human relationship with caffeine is relatively recent, however, and thus its impact on our brains is likely a by-product of its true ecological role. Caffeine occurs naturally in the floral nectar of Coffea and Citrus plants. Wright et al. (see the Perspective by Chittka and Peng) found that caffeine presented at naturalistic levels significantly improved the ability of bees to remember and locate a learned floral scent and potentiated the responses of neurons involved in olfactory learning and memory.

G. A. Wright, D. D. Baker, M. J. Palmer, D. Stabler, J. A. Mustard, E. F. Power, A. M. Borland, P. C. Stevenson, Caffeine in floral nectar enhances a pollinator’s memory of reward. Science 339, 1202–1204 (2013).[Abstract] [Full Text]

L. Chittka, F. Peng, Caffeine boosts bees’ memories. Science 339, 1157–1159 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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