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The effect of octopamine on bumblebee responsiveness, learning, and memory
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Octopamine (OA), the insect ortholog of the human neurotransmitter/ neurohormone norepinephrine, has been shown to regulate motivation, learning and memory in invertebrates. The effect of octopamine on responsiveness has been widely studied in honeybees; however, the effect of octopamine on bumblebee responsiveness is not well established. The ability of a bee not only to sense diminishing levels of floral reward (e.g. sucrose, found in floral nectar), but also to remember the location of such a reward would be beneficial for the bee as well as for a plant which relies on bees to spread its pollen. I propose to test the ability of octopamine to reduce sucrose response thresholds as well as to enhance learning and memory in bumblebees. Exploring this neuronally-mediated process and future searches to detect the presence of octopamine in plant nectar will lead to a better understanding of various chemoattractants used by plants in nature to attract and manipulate the behavior of pollinators.