• Thermographical picture of a honeybee - Schematized honeybees and structural formula of organic chemicals
Chair of Behavioral Physiology & Sociobiology

Thamm lab - Molecular behavioral physiology

A honey bee colony (Apis mellifera) consists of many thousands of individuals, primarily female workers, who take over all the important tasks (cleaning, breeding, food, etc.) in the colony. For this purpose, worker bees are provided with an enormous behavioral spectrum and great behavioral plasticity. For example, all worker bees are able to produce heat via muscle shivering of their flight muscles. This is needed, to keep the brood warm when the outside temperature drops or to keep the colony alive during the winter. However, only a small fraction of worker bees show this behavior, indicating that thermogenesis is plastic and underlies regulation.
The focus of our research lies in the molecular basis of the behavioral plasticity of honey bees. The most important aspects of our research is the regulation of gene expression in the context of behavioral plasticity and how biogenic amines (and their receptors) are involved in these processes. For this, we combine methods from a wide range of different areas such as behavioral pharmacology, pharmaceutical analytic and molecular biology.


  • Characterizing neural representation of uni- and multimodal stimuli in mushroom body output neurons
  • Influence of learning on multimodal integration at the neuronal and behavioral level
  • Establishing suitable classical conditioning protocols to olfactory, visual and olfactory-visual stimuli

Selected publications

  • Octopamine drives honeybee thermogenesis Kaya-Zeeb, Sinan; Engelmayer, Lorenz; Straßburger, Mara; Bayer, Jasmin; Bähre, Heike; Seifert, Roland; Scherf-Clavel, Oliver; Thamm, Markus in eLife (2022). 11 e74334.
  • Sequence and structural properties of circular RNAs in the brain of nurse and forager honeybees (Apis mellifera) Thölken, Clemens; Thamm, Markus; Erbacher, Christoph; Lechner, Marcus in BMC Genomics (2019). 20(1) 88.
  • Neuronal distribution of tyramine and the tyramine receptor AmTAR1 in the honeybee brain Thamm, Markus; Scholl, Christina; Reim, Tina; Grübel, Kornelia; Möller, Karin; Rössler, Wolfgang; Scheiner, Ricarda in Journal of Comparative Neurology (2017). 525(12) 2615–2631.
  • AmTAR2: Functional characterization of a honeybee tyramine receptor stimulating adenylyl cyclase activity Reim, Tina; Balfanz, Sabine; Baumann, Arnd; Blenau, Wolfgang; Thamm, Markus; Scheiner, Ricarda in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2017). 80 91–100.