CE37 - Neurosciences intégratives et cognitives

Pheromone information processing in the social insect brain – PHEROBRAIN

Submission summary

Sociality is classified as one of the major transitions in evolution, and the most advanced level of sociality in animals is found in eusocial insect societies, like honey bees. The success of social insect colonies relies on elaborate communication among the colony members, and in particular on the use of a high number of pheromones. But how does the social insect brain manage to encode such a plethora of highly?meaningful and ecologically?relevant signals? Does it encode social pheromones using dedicated pathways (labeled-line system), a relevant strategy when only a few pheromones are used by the animal (i.e. sexual pheromone), or does it use a combinatorial strategy (many weakly specific lines), in the manner of general odorants? To answer these questions, the PHEROBRAIN project aims to identify and characterize olfactory receptors of the honey bee tuned to pheromonal compounds using a phylogenetic approach and heterologous expression in the Drosophila empty-neuron system (Aim 1). We will then study the central circuits involved in pheromone processing using in vivo calcium imaging on transgenic bees expressing the calcium indicator GCaMP6, recently developed in the scientific coordinator’s team (Aim 2). Finally, we will study the effect of specific olfactory receptor knock-out on bee’s behavior (Aim 3), both in natural conditions and using associative conditioning. Overall, the PHEROBRAIN project will help to understand how evolution has shaped the social insect brain to cope with the increased need for accurate communication channels.

Project coordination

Julie Carcaud (Centre national de la recherche scientifique)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


EGCE Centre national de la recherche scientifique

Help of the ANR 290,062 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2022 - 48 Months

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