Association of Amine-Receptor DNA Sequence Variants with Associative Learning in the Honeybee
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Octopamine- and dopamine-based neuromodulatory systems play a critical role in learning and learning-related behaviour in insects. To further our understanding of these systems and resulting phenotypes, we quantified DNA sequence variations at six loci coding octopamine—and dopamine-receptors and their association with aversive and appetitive learning traits in a population of honeybees. We identified 79 polymorphic sequence markers (mostly SNPs and a few insertions/deletions) located within or close to six candidate genes. Intriguingly, we found that levels of sequence variation in the protein-coding regions studied were low, indicating that sequence variation in the coding regions of receptor genes critical to learning and memory is strongly selected against. Non-coding and upstream regions of the same genes, however, were less conserved and sequence variations in these regions were weakly associated with between-individual differences in learning-related traits. While these associations do not directly imply a specific molecular mechanism, they suggest that the cross-talk between dopamine and octopamine signalling pathways may influence olfactory learning and memory in the honeybee.
KeywordsOlfactory conditioning Learning Memory Candidate genes Polymorphism Pleiotropy
We thank Jamie McQuillan, David Jarriault, Kim Garrett and Murray McKenzie for technical assistance with the project. LLSS was supported by a University of Otago Research Grant.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
Malgorzata Lagisz, Alison R. Mercer, Charlotte de Mouzon, Luana L. S. Santos and Shinichi Nakagawa declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Human and animal rights and informed consent
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. For this type of study formal consent is not required.
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