Honeybees as social insects show an exciting spectrum of different behavioral patterns like acquiring food sources or raising brood, for example. In their division of labor, young bees function as nurses and take care for eggs and larvae, later they develop into foragers and collect nectar and pollen for the hive. Pollen is the protein source, while nectar provides the carbohydrates for the bee colony. Therefore, is important that the insects can perceive and evaluate the taste of their food, especially the sweetness. Individuals of different castes appear differently sensitive in their response to the sugars sucrose and fructose. Nurse bees are less sensitive and show a reduced expression of the sugar receptor candidates in their antennae when compared to foragers. In my work, I am interested in the taste perception of honeybees and the associated behavior, especially how division of labor is controlled. Behavioral experiments can reveal whether different conditions, such as division of labor, age or different sugars, affect the sensitivity. In addition, my research focuses on better understanding of the molecular function and regulation of the so far putative annotated sugar receptors.
Zanni, V., Değirmenci, L., Annoscia, D., Scheiner, R., and Nazzi, F. (2018) The reduced brood nursing by mite-infested honey bees depends on their accelerated behavioral maturation, Journal of Insect Physiology 109, 47 - 54.
Değirmenci, L., Thamm, M., and Scheiner, R. (2017) Responses to sugar and sugar receptor gene expression in different social roles of the honeybee (Apis mellifera), Journal of Insect Physiology 106, 65-70.