The role of octopamine and dopamine signalling for social learning in honeybees
Melissa Linn, Melissa Linn , Christoph Grüter
Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany; Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany ; Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany
Honeybees can learn socially about profitable feeding sites by following waggle dances performed inside the nest by successful foragers. Followers choose between using this social information to be recruited and using their private memory of a food source they have visited previously. The decision social vs. private information may depend on molecular mechanisms of the reward system. In particular, octopamine (OA) and dopamine (DA) signalling in the mushroom bodies might play important roles as these signalling pathways are involved in reward processing. We addressed the influence of orally administered OA and DA on dance following behaviour and recruitment probability. We trained bees to artificial feeders and tested whether OA and DA mediated the decision to follow dances to be recruited to an unknown feeder or to be reactivated to their familiar feeder. Due to their different effects on reward perception, we hypothesized that OA would enhance the use of private information and suppress the use of social information, whereas we expected the opposite for DA. As assumed, we found reduced dance following for OA. DA-treatment increased dance following, but also the probability to use private information. Overall, our results suggest that OA- and DA-signalling influences social learning in different but potentially cross-linked ways.