The Effects of Social Interactions on Learning and Memory in the Honey Bee Apis Mellifera
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The honey bee Apis mellifera has been used to study the genetics of learning and memory for several decades. In Chapter 2, a literature review revealed that learning and memory phenotypes are highly heritable. Several quantitative trait loci and specific genes which code for neurotransmitter receptors were identified. Whereas transcriptomic approaches showed that the process of learning and memory involves hundreds of genes. Although understanding the genetic components is crucial, it is also important to understand how environmental factors affect learning and memory. In Chapter 3, I investigate the effect of social interactions on discrimination learning by randomly assigning bees into three different social groups: 1 bee, 8 bees, and 32 bees. Using the proboscis extension conditioned response test, I found that the fewer social interactions a bee experiences, the more responsive she is to sucrose. Bees raised in groups of 32 had the best performance in discrimination learning.