Behavioral studies on tarsal gustation in honeybees: sucrose responsiveness and sucrose-mediated olfactory conditioning
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Although the forelegs of honeybees are one of their main gustatory appendages, tarsal gustation in bees has never been systematically studied. To provide a more extensive account on honeybee tarsal gustation, we performed a series of behavioral experiments aimed at characterizing (1) tarsal sucrose sensitivity under different experimental conditions and (2) the capacity of tarsal sucrose stimulation to support olfactory conditioning. We quantified the proboscis extension reflex to tarsal sucrose stimulation and to odors paired with tarsal sucrose stimulation, respectively. Our experiments show that tarsal sucrose sensitivity is lower than antennal sucrose sensitivity and can be increased by starvation time. In contrast, antennae amputation decreases tarsal sucrose sensitivity. Furthermore, we show that tarsal sucrose stimulation can support olfactory learning and memory even if the acquisition level reached is relatively low (40%).
KeywordsGustation Honeybee Tarsi Sucrose Olfactory learning
Molecular gustatory receptor
Gustatory receptor neuron
Proboscis extension reflex
Group experiencing olfactory stimulation
Group experiencing tarsal sucrose stimulation
We thank two anonymous reviewers and Jean-Christophe Sandoz for comments and suggestions on previous versions of the manuscript. We also thank Theo Mota and Edith Roussel for helping with the logistics of some experiments and Cyril Fresillon for Fig. 1. This work was supported by BEESHOP (European research grant “Bees in Europe and Sustainable Honey Production”), the French Research Council (CNRS), the University Paul-Sabatier and the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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